Tools of the trade

Submitted by Miles Gatling to Contest #19 in response to: Write a short story about someone based on their shopping list.... view prompt

"Why did you kill him, Stan?"

"I said I want my lawyer."

"Come on now. You're making this way too difficult. Just admit it, it'll be easier on your sentence."

"Hey don't blame me for something I didn't do. Give me a lawyer, then I'll talk."

"Forget your lawyer, Stan. He won't help you, not after I show him incriminating video footage."

The detective leaned back in his chair and straightened his tie. 

"What are you talking about? What video?" 

Stan’s eyes narrowed. 

"You, buying a screwdriver at Hardware-4-Life; hours before you murdered Joseph Woods."

"Stop it, this is illegal. I know my rights."

Stan's tone was dangerous. 

"It's not illegal, my man. I represent The System; so that gives me the power to hold you in this room, until I see fit. Now then, I know you bought a screwdriver and paid for it in cash. I also know you took Moonlight boulevard to get to Wilkinson Street."

"I did no such thing. Stop making stuff up." 

The young man sighed and scratched his eyelid. 

"You also bought plastic sheets and a chainsaw." 

"Where are you coming up with this shit? A Chainsaw?" 

Stan smacked the top of the table with both his palms. 

"I have your shopping list right here, Stan. Isn't this a copy of your receipt?" 

"Look mister, you clearly got the wrong man. I never bought any of this shit. If someone got murdered, I had nothing to do with it." 

The detective slowly rose and walked closer to his prisoner. He put both hands in his trousers's pockets and leaned in. 

"Look Stan, I'll be honest with you. I can't help you if you don't confess. Hear me out. We have video footage, we have your receipt, a witness that claims he saw you exit the hardware store, your location from that day. The judge will look favorably on you if you plead guilty. With good behavior you'll be out in five years."

"Admit to murder? Who will hire me? Who will want to talk to me, date me. Plus, I didn't kill anyone; ever."

"So what's a murder to your already extensive file? You're a thief; murder would only come natural to an individual such as yourself. And the boys will be glad to see you. You hardly ever visit us since you got out."

"I won't talk until my lawyer gets here."

It was clear to the detective that Stan reached his limit. He knew he wouldn't get anything more out of him.

"Think about it." 

With that he opened the door and stepped out, locking it behind him. He glanced at his partner and sighed. 

"Got a cigarette?" 

"Here, the lighter is inside. Well, now what?" 

He lit up.

"Stan's not scared. We won't be able to use him. Not yet at least."

Puffing and holding in the smoke, the detective smushed the rest of the cigarette. Then, he added 

"We know where he lives. Send a couple of thugs to drug him and plant dope in his apartment. Then have the boys bust in and take his ass to the hospital for drug tests."

"Does he ever shoot up? What if he overdoses?" 

"Since when do you give a fuck?" 

"Hey, you're one to judge. Look at you, faking videos, lists, bringing in a false witness…"

"It's part of the job, rookie. Once we squeeze this guy, he'll give us information about the kingpin's men. Then we make him our eyes and ears."

"He's a dead man if he talks." 

The detective placed both hands on his hips and frowned. 

"Look man, you don't know these pricks like I do. If we don't take them out now, we may never get another shot. Stan is our ticket in."

"You'll leave a trail. They'll take your badge away." 

"They might. But at least I have a shot of wiping out those fuckers." 

The detective checked his wristwatch. He eyed the steel object with calm.

“You questioned him long enough. If we don’t release him soon it might -”

“Well then, I better let the man go. I’m sure he's eager to get home. Who’s Tommy’s snitch again?”

“Bookworm.”

“Ha, that’s funny. Get that fucker in my office now. I need a couple of capable individuals to help with the plan.”

With that the detective joined Stan in the interrogation room, leaving the rookie officer to carry out his orders. Stan was quiet; he had not moved from his chair.

“Good news Stan, you're free to go.”

“Just like that? I’m free to go?”

“Just like that. You won't be needing that lawyer now.”

“Am I still under investigation? Have I been charged with anything?”

“Apparently we made a mistake. You weren’t the one who bought all those things; our witness was misinformed…”

Stan sighed in relief and rubbed his face. He swiftly stood up and walked towards the door.

“Don’t leave town for a few weeks. It’s better to stay put.”

“Hey, I have a job now. I’m trying to rebuild my life.”

Stan’s spoke quickly, making sure the detective heard what he had to say.

“Power to you, my man. But keep in mind, old habits die hard. And you can't always pick your friends, Stan.”

“I told you detective, I’m out. I keep myself clean and out of trouble.”

“We’ll see. Oh, before you go; do you know Francesco Barta?”

“Never heard of him.”

“On the street they call him Teddy Bear.”

Stan’s face contorted in anger. He barely stopped himself from cursing, then slammed the door behind him. The detective was left alone in the room. He checked his watch again. As he cleaned the sapphire glass face, inside stepped his partner with a ragged looking man.

“Here he is, sir.”

“Thanks man. I appreciate it. Get yourself a cup of coffee, you earned it.”

“Hey, I don’t know you. I only talk to Tommy. You said that -”

“Relax man. Bookworm, is it?”

The man slouched, tucked his head between his shoulders.

“Sit down, man. I wanna ask a favor of you. And in return I'll put in a good word with the boys. They’ll look the other way this week if some evidence goes missing. ”

“What kind of favor?” The thug greedily eyed the detective, pinching his nose and sniffing.





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