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My City by the Bay (Chapter 3, Part 3 of 4)


The blood from the gentleman’s face drained. Hoping beyond hope that he could still play the charade, he spoke startled, “I do not understand. What is the meaning of this?” He was irritated with the emotions that lay in conflict within him. “Why did I have to step in this mess? Damn it, why did he have to get so drunk?” the gentleman thought as he pursed his lips.

“Aww, come on Benelli,” Sig sighed with the weight of his liquor. “You make a fine actor, but you didn’t put on enough concealer to hide that beauty mark near your left eye.” While the chance of it not being who he thought slim, he proceeded to add more evidence to his case. He slid up close to the impostor’s ear and whispered, “besides, you forgot to wash off that Coco Noir of yours.” He bobbled back with the impish of grins and chuckled silently.

“I didn’t want to wash it off!” Benelli was white hot and rolled right into the rough East Coast accent.

“Winner, winner, chicken dinner!” Sig danced in place like a child. “AND,” Sig was drunk enough to egg on a gang of bikers. “By the looks of it, I’d say you’re headed to the Sable Saddle’s ‘Victorian Night’ they promote so heavily, which means…” His eyes light up with devilish delight.

“Don’t say it, Sig.” Benelli was regretting her decisions with each passing sentence.

“What?! Why would I care about who winds up in your bed?” Sig raised his arms in a shrug.

“Do you realize how this could affect my work at the station, if this gets out? I can’t let this happen, Sig. It’s bad enough to listen to the jokes in the locker room!” Benelli was starting to hyperventilate with situations that haven’t come to fruition.

“Madeline,” Sig said with a firm tone. This struck Benelli off-guard, as he never calls her by her first name. After a brief pause, Sig proceeded, “you have been my partner for four years. In that time you have treated me better than anyone ever has, let alone any partner. I’ll be damned if I were to do anything to jeopardize that. I want you to stick with me, until…” Sig got distracted by the flashing “Don’t Walk” sign in the corner of his eye.

“Until?” Benelli didn’t know what to make of the speech.

“Until you get promoted.” Sig knew she was on a faster track than he in climbing the ranks. His antics were too much to fit in the upper echelon of the force. Benelli looked down at the street to compose herself.

“Thanks.” Benelli was now solemn and pensive at such a display of camaraderie.

“You’re welcome.” Sig matched her solemn nature as if he was in a poker game.

“Why are you doing this to yourself, anyway?” The more obvious issue finally came to the surface.

“Sal was a good kid. I knew him forever. No one gave him the time of day, until we met. Dammit, Benelli, I had him THIS close to getting into the academy. This close! He would have been a fine cop, and maybe he could finally have something to hang his hat on. Something to make his life worthwhile.” Sig held up his fingers, as if he were trying to crush Benelli’s head.

“I’m sorry, Sig. I didn’t know he was that close to you.”

“Aww, what’s it matter now. No one cares about another dead street rat.”

“You do. That has to count for something.”

“If I’m the best example, then that’s pretty sad. I bet his own mother is wiped out over in Hammy Park and doesn’t even know he’s dead. She may not even remember she has a son. Is that what it has come to these days? To forget there are people around us? To forget what the word “countrymen” means? To forget that we’re all in it together, for better or worse?” Sig slowly shook his head. “We’re here to protect everyone, even the junkies and bums, and I’m sore to say it’s not even close to that.”

“Yeah,” Benelli exhaled, “but at least there are some people still willing to fight for it.”

After a brief silence, Sig spoke up. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a bus to catch.” Sig straightened himself up, trying to look as dignified as he could be.

“Oh, no you don’t. You can barely walk.” Benelli jumped out of being in her head for the last few seconds.

“Madam, I am a grown man. I do not need my mommy for anything anymore. With that, enjoy your event and I shall see you later.” Sig spun around and promptly walked into a parking meter.


“You’re coming with me.” Benelli said flatly.

“Oh God, she’s taking me to a gay bar. On a theme night at that! I’m not even in costume!” Sig started swaying dramatically. “My ‘Miss Havisham’ is at the cleaners right now. Oh, what a tragedy!” He paused for a second and looked at Benelli. “Who are you supposed to be, anyway?”

Phileas Fogg,” Benelli muttered while shouldering a bit of his weight.

“Oh! I thought you were Oscar Wilde for a moment there.”

“No, there’s not enough velvet here for that.”


The Sable Saddle

“I can’t let him in.” The bouncer looked like Tiny’s sister, with less polish.

“Come on, Kate, do me a favor just this once. He’s all out of sorts, and I have to keep an eye on him.” It was rather amusing to see Benelli in costume without speaking the part.

“He doesn’t have a costume on, Mittens.” Sig’s eyes got wild and looked at his partner to mouth “mittens” with glee. Benelli shot him daggers back. “That’s the first rule tonight. The second rule is that I don’t let in trouble. He looks like trouble.” Sig gave the bouncer an incredulous look and then proceeded to bat his eyes at her. Kathryn folded her arms in support of her argument.

“Listen, I’ll speak with Truman and tell him that you did your job. Please, Kate? Please?!” Truman Huckleberry was mostly a pleasant man, but prone to fits, if things were disrupted or he didn’t get what he wanted. The idea of hearing another 30-minute tirade from him wasn’t the most appealing to Kathryn, but she was fond of Benelli.

Kate shifted her eyes left and right and then twisted her face. “OK… just this once, Mittens. Don’t put me in this jam again.”

“Oh, thank you. Thank you, Kate. I’m so sorry this had to happen.”

The bouncer then shifted her eyes to Sig. “…and you better not cause any trouble, asshole.” Sig said nothing, but made the loveliest of smiles. This made Kathryn’s eyes sharpen and lift her pierced nostril slightly as they passed.

The Sable Saddle was expansive. Truman had gone to great lengths to harvest what he could from the ballrooms, playhouses, and mansions of England. Its antique light washed over everything, which gave it a daguerreotype feel. While the establishment was mostly open access to everyone, the woman hung around the first floor and the men enjoyed ascending/descending the dual staircases to the second floor.

“Who the fuck is this?” Virginia was befuddled at the appearance of Sig

“This,” Benelli paused, “is my partner on the force: Sig. Sig, say hello to the ladies.”

Sig feigned a smile and muttered something incoherent.

“He reeks,” recoiled Jane, “what’s going on? Why is he here?”

“He just lost a dear friend to a horrible crime, and had one too many drinks. I couldn’t let him go home alone in this condition.” Benelli couldn’t think of anything else but to say the truth.

“Please, please, PLEASE don’t tell me he’s coming home with us.” The expression on Virginia’s face was nothing less than sheer disgust.

“Only to drop him off at his apartment.”

“You sure know how to make a bad night worse, mittens.”

Sig, who’s head was now comfortably resting in the corner of the booth with a cloth napkin over his head, let out a giggle. “Mittens!” He said with a high-pitched tone. Benelli jabbed an elbow in his side to shut him up.

On the way back home, Sig took the same stance in the back seat of Virginia’s Kia Rio as he did at the Sable Saddle. On occasion, he’d mutter something but just as soon as he did, he’d fall back to sleep.

“You must like your partner a whole lot to be doing this for him. If he were working with me in any capacity, I would have let him sleep it off in the alley.” Virginia was a lot calmer, now that time had passed, but still stewing a little about the unwelcomed visitor.

“Yeah, Kelly, I do.” Benelli rounded the corner to Tatum Avenue, which is where Sig lived. “For the longest time, I didn’t know why.” She shot her date a side glance. “After tonight, though, I think I figured it out.”

“Yeah?” Kelly was trying to remove any garments that were convenient and non-essential. “Why’s that?”

“Because he’s fighting for us. The both of us together and for each and every one of us as ourselves. He’s out there doing his job for his family. We’re all his family, and he doesn’t want to let us down.” Benelli stopped the car, and yelled to the back seat, “OK, this is your stop!”

Kelly looked at Sig through the rear-view mirror. It was too dark to tell if he was awake and listening, or asleep and oblivious. In a matter of moments the door opened up and he was hoisted out of the car.

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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My City by the Bay (Chapter 2, Part 5 of 6)

Sig dramatically threw himself into the seat at his desk. He let out a deep sigh and muttered “that went well. It could have been worse, at least.” All of the paperwork stared at him expectantly. Moving it around in circles with the palms of his hands, a shiny corner of color with a white border appeared. It was a picture of Chrissy and him at one particular New Year’s Eve party. For all the fighting, she could look as sweet as an angel for the camera. He was also thankful that picture was taken before the second bottle of champagne was drained and she was singing David Allen Coe‘s “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” for the sixth time in a row.

“Hey, Wachiewski!” A doughy-eared, ox of a man peeked around the corner with a bright, beaming smile. “Why don’t Polacks eat pickles?”

Sig dropped the photo, stared ruefully at his desk lamp, and muttered “this day gets better and better.” Slowly turning to the aspiring comic, he replied, “I don’t know, Pauly. Why don’t Polacks eat pickles?”

“’Cause they can’t fit their head in the jar.” Sucking in as much enjoyment as he could handle, he let out his signature horse laugh. Sig sighed with resignation. After all, everyone plays the fool sometimes.

“What’s wrong? Can’t take a joke? Come on now. Where’s your sense of humor? All’s fair in love and jokes.” Pauly’s 6′ 2″ frame was looming over Sig’s desk like a docking zeppelin.

“Oh, is that right?” An oaken voice interrupted amateur hour. “Got any good ones for me?” Behind the big mook stood Sgt. Darius King, a stout, barrel-chested black man from Montgomery, Alabama.

“Heyyy, uh, Sarge. I… I don’t know what you mean.” The look on Pauly’s face was enough to know he had no idea where this was going.

“Got any good jokes for me? I could always use a good laugh.”

“Oh! OK, two guys walk into a bar…”

“Not that kind of joke.” Darius interrupted

“Oh, well, uh…”

“OK, Pauly, let’s rephrase that. Do you have any jokes about me?”

“No, Sarge, I’d never make fun of you!” sputtered Doherty.

“Really?” King’s brows arched high on his forehead. “You mean to tell me that a white, Irish cop can’t think of one, measly, little black joke?”

The trap was sprung. Pauly had walked right into it, and his eyes widened like a deer.

“No! NO! I wouldn… I’d… no!”

“Pauly,” Darius was using paternal tones now. He was a father of four and husband to Clara, the best baker the force has ever witnessed. Sig would make a habit of finding ingenious ways to swipe more than one of her blueberry muffins from the break room. “Tell me a black joke.” With a light touch, Sgt. King straightened Pauly’s collar.

Doherty’s face went beet red, and his eyes shut as if to finally moderate the things coming out of his mouth.

“A, uh, a black man and a w-w-white man start running in a race…” Who would have thought this big braggart of a man would now be a quivering mess?

“Pauly, is that really the way you talk around your white buddies?” Darius wheedled. It was getting painful to watch, but Sig held fast to his desk chair.

“No,” Pauly whimpered.

“Tell the real joke.” The sergeant’s body was contorted, almost like the coils of a snake, threatening to inflict some type of punishment if he didn’t get what he wanted. Beads of sweat broke on Pauly’s brow and he continued.

“A nigger and a white guy start running a race. Who will win?” Doherty was now a shadow of his former self.

Darius straightened up in surprise and flared his nostrils, obviously to play up the stereotype. “That’s a good question, Pauly. I don’t know. Who wins?”

“Th… the… the white guy.”

“Oh, really?! Now, why… is… that?” Darius always had a fondness for Samuel L. Jackson. It couldn’t be hidden by a planet at this point.

“B…b…because the nigger had to stop half-way and spray paint ‘motherfucker’ on the wall.” Pauly was now on the verge of tears. Insulting the sergeant was nuts, but with a joke like this?

Satisfied, Darius gave Pauly a big smile and a rich laugh. A slight nod of the head produced, “that’s funny, Pauly… but I’ve already heard that one before. Don’t quit your day job.” With that, the sergeant lightly slapped Doherty on the cheek a couple of times and walked over to the break room. Pauly fell in a nearby chair like a deflated balloon. His face gave off so much heat that it warmed his hands as he sat buried in them.

Now that the show was over, Sig got up and sprinted to the break room. There he saw Darius casually mixing the chunks of powdered creamer into his coffee. “Hey,” Sig felt the need to say something, “thanks, uh, thanks for sticking up for me back there.”

King’s head shifted back slightly to give him the appearance of a double chin. “Standing up for you? Hell no. I just wanted to watch his white ass squirm.” With a chortle, the sergeant set out on a course for his desk. He, unlike Sig, actually kept up on his paperwork.

Back at his desk, Sig started to have a fit “Now! Now! Nownownownow!” That was code for, “I need to get this done. Where do I start?” Sorting out the disheveled papers on the desk, he stuffed the large McTaterTot from breakfast that morning into his mouth. Proceeding to keep half of it out like a golden-fried tongue, he banged the stack of papers on the desktop to straighten them out.

“SIG!” Benelli walked up to the desk at a brisk pace, “we’ve got a murder in Old Town. They think it might be connected to the case. We’ve got to go!” Sig blinked at her, wide-eyed, with the wafer in the same position it had been for a while. “Get that thing out of your mouth, and let’s go!” She never thought any of his antics were funny. How depressing.

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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