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