The cool night air gently brushes against his face as he makes his way down the quiet street, the damp pavement echoing his footsteps, his long coat trailing behind him. The neon-lit alley barely betrays his features, but his jet-black hair still stands out in the dark. Just a step ahead of him is an equally tall, dapper gentleman. His breathing steady, his movements precise, yet constantly alert of his surroundings, and showing no signs of wavering as he carries on leading the way on the pair's stroll through the evening.
The two eventually come to a halt in front of a rather extravagant establishment in an otherwise desolate area. 「Single Double」, read the large sign above. No drunkards littered outside. No guards standing by the entrance. Not a soul in sight. Nothing but the illumination and low buzzing of the bar’s sign welcomed the men. A quick nod between the two, and the man calmly enters, closing the door on the gentleman waiting outside.
The soft murmur of idle chatter fills the air, the clinking of glass occasionally ringing between conversations. The man’s appearance hardly scratched the leisurely atmosphere floating around the room. Round wooden tables furnish the matching floor, and paintings of a bygone era adorned the walls. A Victorian theme, huh, thought the man. A stark contrast to the building’s thick, concrete exterior.
At the other end, the barman can be seen catering to a few customers. Others are scattered around, immersing themselves in their enjoyment, forgetting their worries and relieving their stress. The night is still young.
The young man begins scanning around as he begins making his way slowly to the counter, his eyes darting left and right. A few silent eyes return his glances at times, giving off a feeling of not wanting to be disturbed. Others show a slight interest, but quickly fade away when he doesn’t reply in turn. Most simply pay him no heed.
Too large. Too short. Not that one. Nor this one.
The man diligently continues his sweep, like a bloodhound sniffing out its prey. As he nears the counter, his eyes rest upon a hunched back. Slick hair combed to the back. Broad shoulders. Muscular build, outlined by his clothing. A split second of judgement, and the man proceeds to take the adjacent seat, leaning on to the counter as he sneaks a peek through the corner of his eye. The patron, unawares, continues drinking his worries away. There, on his cheek, just below his eye, is a mole. This one.
“We don’t have to make this difficult,” his voice low yet audible. As the patron turns to look at the man, his eye catches a glint shining from the countertop. He twitches involuntarily. Barely noticeable, but unable to elude the man’s detection. “You talking to me?” he asks nonchalantly, pretending not to notice the badge that had just been placed. “Come quietly,” continues the man, “and maybe you could get a lighter sentence.” He makes an obvious show of putting his badge away.
“Look,” starts the patron. “I dunno what this is all about, but I know I’ve done nothing wrong.” He takes a swig of his drink. “If anything, it’s probably my brother. And any trouble of his ain’t my business,” he scoffs. Shaking his head, he turns his attention away. The man sighs. Standing up, he turns to the patron. “Then, you wouldn’t mind answering a few questions at least, would you?” “Here? Now?” the irritation evident in the patron’s voice. He takes a deep breath. “I’ve had a long day, and I’m not looking to make it any longer.” He downs the rest of his drink with a single gulp, and turns to leave, remarking off-handedly, “I’ll drop by the police station tomorrow or whatever,” but a sudden, firm grip on his shoulder stops him in his tracks.
In a single, swift motion, the patron spins around, his hands balled into fists, and swings at the man. It just grazes the man’s abdomen, but forces him to let go of the patron as he steps back to avoid it, knocking over his seat behind him. A few heads turn to see what the commotion is about, and the barman, upon seeing the patron looking ready for a fight, scurries over hoping to quell the issue before things get out of hand. The man knows it’s too late for that. He sighs once more, his weary eyes looking up at his opponent who is already coming at him again. It’s never simple.
The patron, now lying on the pavement in front of the bar among shards of glass, groans in pain. A few cuts and bruises here and there, but otherwise still in one piece. The man casually steps over the cracked glass and out through the hole he had just made, fixing his ruffled coat, the commotion in the bar echoing behind him. His partner, having checked on the now unconscious patron, stands up and turns. He looks past the man, towards the shattered window, and further in. He makes a quick survey of the situation, then shakes his head in disappointment. His piercing gaze finally meets the man’s eyeline.
“Captain’s office. Again.”
The man rubs his tired face, taking a long deep breath, savouring the cool night air, and exhales.