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Westside Gotham
4:35 AM


Blue lights and arc lights illuminated the crime scene. Three prowl cars parked in a semi-circle provided light. Slam stood behind crime scene tape with all the others. Patrolmen directed traffic and kept civilians and reporters at bay. Geeks on the sidewalks peddled merch. They sold cheap Batman t-shirts, cheap Batman capes, chunks of rusty metal claimed to be genuine bullets used in the murder that just happened. Slam smoked with steady hands. A half-pint of Ripple on the drive over steadied him.

FEATURE: A dead body on the pavement. A blue tarp covered him. Crime scene techs and plainclothes officers converged on the scene. He saw Homicide dicks and crime scene techs in windbreakers. He saw Charlie Fields in a sharp suit. Charlie was part of Slam and Jim's squad in Homicide. Charlie loved the Life; capital L, always with a capital L. Charlie loved being a cop and solving murders. Slam used to. Slam told boxing stories to criminals and criminals alike. Slam shadowboxed for effect. Slam used to be all about the Life. The Life turned on him. The Life chewed him up. It was still chewing him. Spitting him back out: TBA.

A crime scene tech was coming out of the scene. Red hair with flecks of gray in them. He carried a camera around his neck. Slam locked eyes. Jim Corrigan was as dirty as the day was long. Slam remembered him going through three different IAD investigations and not a single one touched him. The Teflon Crook. Corrigan was slicker than goose shit.

"Corrigan," he said as the man passed by. He flashed a roll of cash. "A few bucks for your time?"

Corrigan got stiff. Corrigan looked around to make sure the coast was clear.

"Slam fucking Bradley," Corrigan said softly. "Where the fuck does a smokehound like you get a wad like that?"

Slam laughed. "Fairy godmother. She's got redhair and weighs a hundred and twenty, apparently."

Corrigan led Slam to his car. The leaned against the hood. Corrigan bummed a cigarette off Slam and passed him his camera. Slam thumbed through the pix on the digital camera. Crime scene pix showed a dead body face down on the pavement. Shots got in close on the back of the head. Two shots, two entry wounds. No pix of the front because it would be fucking pulp. Slam saw stippling around the wounds. The killer got in close before pulling the trigger.

"Who was he?"

"Some drug dealer," said Corrigan. "Obviously, solving this one is a top priority on the homicide list."

Slam scrolled through the pix faster. Shell casings near the body ruled out a revolver as the primary weapon. Entry wounds looked like either a 9 MM or .40 were used as the murder weapon. It probably didn't matter. If it was a pro job, the gun was already down a storm drain on the other side of town somewhere. He liked reviewing the shots. Years since he flexed his murder police muscle. It felt good.

"What'd you know about Jim Gordon, Corrigan?"

Corrigan shrugged. "He has a mustache."

"No shit?" Slam pulled a couple of twenties out of his wad. "I'm talking about his so-called disappearance. Supposedly, he was hanging out with some shady people. C'mon, Corrigan, you know that's bullshit. This is Father Jim we're talking about."

Corrigan blew out smoke. "What can I say? America loves a fallen idol. It's very poetic."

Slam flicked his cigarette butt across the street and fumed. He pulled out more rolls of bills and laid them in Corrigan's lap.

"The Surveillance Squad is where the intel came from. They were the ones that placed him with the Bertinelli mob."

Goosebumps went up Slam's arm. The Surveillance Squad. His old unit. Chinatown. Two-Gun Grogan. Then: Shakedown artists and two-bit thugs. Now? Who knew what the fuck they were now.

"Can you get your hands on that report?"

Corrigan laughed. "Given my reputation, IAD would be all over me like flies on shit if I got anywhere close to this thing. They probably don't like me even here taking pictures, man. I me--"

"You're right, Officer Corrigan."

Slam and Corrigan turned. A tall, think black man in a three-piece stood close by. His head was shaved and he wore big, black frame glasses. Slam's face flushed and he balled his fists up.

"Mr. Bradley," he said with a grin. "It's been awhile."

"Go fuck yourself, Bock."

McKenzie Bock. IAD captain and all around shit-bird. It was his investigation that ended Slam's career. Once upon a time, it had taken six full-grown men to pull Slam off Bock and to pry his big mitts off the thin man's windpipe.

Bock picked lint from his suit. "You're a civilian now, Bradley. I could have you arrested for making threats to a sworn police officer, but I'll settle for your swift departure from the scene. This is a GCPD matter." Bock flashed a smirk and raised an eyebrow. "Where were you tonight, say around midnight?"

"Ask your mother." Slam grabbed his crotch. "She's my fucking alibi. Literally."

Bock's grin disappeared. He played with a phi beta kappa chain attached to his waistcoat.

"Get the fuck out of here, Bradley, before I get the patrolmen to toss you out. And Officer Corrigan, get back to fucking work."

Bock turned around and headed back to the crime scene. Slam flipped him off. Corrigan stubbed out his cigarette and shrugged at Slam. He followed Bock back to the scene. Slam shook his head. What was an IAD captain during here at this time of night on the scene of a two-bit drug murder? Fuck it, he thought. And fuck Bock. Not his problem anymore.

Slam lit up a fresh cigarette and beat tracks back to his car. He thought about Corrigan's words earlier. The Surveillance Squad had spread word about Jim's dirt. Corrigan said he couldn't get to them. That didn't mean Slam couldn't.
I'm still interested.
I'm interested.


Gotham Central
2005


Slam flipped a quarter.

"Call it in the air."

Jim said. "Tails."

Slam snatched it out the air with his big mitts. It came up tails.

"Damn."

Jim laughed. Slam flipped him off. A man in handcuffs sat on the other side of a two-way mirror. Jim went in with a stack of papers. Slam lit up a smoke and prepared to watch the show.

Jim sat down and offered the kid a smoke. He refused. Jim lit up and took a few puffs before speaking. "Says here you never knew your father. Alcoholic mother, it was your grandmother that raised you. You didn't ask to be brought into this world, Pat. You inherited this shitty place and time from your shitty parents. You were given a raw deal the second you started breathing, son. How else were you supposed to respond but with anger?"

Slam smiled. Fucking Father Jim. That's what the dicks in the homicide pen called him. He was a touch self-righteous like a priest for sure, but goddamn could he work a suspect over. Within a few minutes of talking to a man he could take their measure and figure out exactly what motivated them. He could employ just the right amount of hate and affection to get someone to tell their deepest, darkest secrets. He could cut through all the bullshit and presumptions and false fronts a person showed the world and get down to that bedrock underneath.

Jim said, "We're all trapped by forces that we don't understand, son. You think I want to be in this room, talking to you about beating an old lady to death for her welfare money? No. Fuck no. But here we are. You're not the only one trapped by circumstance, Pat. But you have a chance to break the cycle you are trapped in. Tell me about what you did. Confess and we can get you off drugs and get your life back on a right path, a path that will be of your choosing."

Slam stubbed a cigarette out on the side of the wall. Father Jim. He could sell ice to an Eskimo. In the room, Pat was breaking down in tears while Jim consoled him. The more the kid spoke, the more and more he dug his own grave. Father Jim, the best salesman on the face of the earth: He sells life sentences in prison to a customer base who has no need or want for them.

----

In Collaboration with @Ruby

The Nite-Owl Coffee Shop
3:18 AM


Slam sipped coffee doused with hooch. The caffeine perked him up, the booze leveled him out. Barbara goddamn Gordon, blast from the past right there. Hearing her voice got him spooked, her pitched spooked him even more. Doris walked by his booth. Two hookers and their pimp sat two booths down. The hookers were all legs and halter tops. The hookers had go-go boots on. The hookers had glassy eyes. The hookers vibed smack addicts. The pimp had a purple fur coat. The pimp picked his teeth with a switchblade. The pimp ordered eggs and hashbrowns, no sausage or bacon, he said pork was haramin his religion. At the counter a lush nodded off and took a nosedive into his plate of eggs. The hookers giggled. The pimp roared. Quarter past three in the morning and the Nite-Owl was doing its usual business.

Slam finished off his coffee and waved Doris down. He ordered another coffee and pulled a flask from his jacket. Two plugs to get him level and goosed. He needed the liquid courage if Barbara was going to be face to face with him. He hadn't seen her in, what? Five or ten years? He'd been Uncle Slam once upon a time. Neither of them had siblings growing up. Jim was the smart older brother Slam never had, and Slam was the kid in need of a mentor Jim never had. They gelled, they clicked, they got simpatico. They got spoooky fucking good when it came to police work.

And Slam fucked it all up.

Doris plopped coffee in front of him. He poured the rest of his hooch into it and took a big sip. The bell clattered by the door. He was still sucking down coffee when she slid into the booth in front of him.

"Just a coffee, please."

Barbara Gordon smiled at her dad's old partner, and friend, Slam Bradley as she walked into his view and slid into the both. Palo Alto, California, had been good to her, and good for her. Her skin was tanned, her red hair a little brighter from all the sun she got on such a consistent basis, and the smile came easier to her lips than it would have in living memory. It helped she hadn't been dealing with psychos and murderers on the regular.

Even her style had changed a little bit. Her jeans were a little tighter, her boots a little more Italian leather and polished in appearance, instead of a teeshirt and old jacket she wore a black silk blouse and a fitted, glossy, leather jacket. Her hair looked recently done, her nails were manicured and black and yellow and glittery gold alternating. Even a little eyeshadow, a touch of blush, and slight eyeliner. She'd had fun on the West Coast, she'd been set free and just allowed to be another college kid with tons of talent in Silicon Valley.

She even had a black leather clutch that was slid onto the table, hands slipping under her hair and pushing it free of her jacket collar, waiting for the coffee to arrive. When did she thanked Doris, and immediately went in for a sip. Black coffee didn't bother her. It was the healthiest way to take it, and in her former hobby, that meant everything.

"Thanks for meeting me, Slam. How much do you know about what's going right now?"

Slam almost spit up his Irish coffee. Pigtails. She'd been wearing pigtails and flowery dresses the last time he'd seen her. She'd been a girl back when he'd partnered with Jim. Now? She was a woman. Slam caught a reflection of his face in the window by the booth. Gray -- too much, far too much -- in his hair and stubble. Where the fuck had the years gone?

"Nothing," he said. "I don't know a thing about what's going on with your dad. The last time we spoke--"

Shouting between them. Accusations. "You're a worthless boozehound, now." Slam decked him. Slam drew blood. Jim's glasses cracked. He fought back because Jim had nailed him cold.

"It... didn't go well. That was a few years back, to say the least."

"The department says he was last seen exiting Estrella Tower;" said Barbara. "The corporate headquarters of Estrella Bertinelli, and home to Helena Bertinelli and her cousin, the reported Don Bertinelli, Guiseppe Bertinelli. Yet every shred of evidence I can find says the last time Jim Gordon was seen was when he went to Gotham General's morgue to see about the Joker's autopsy."

Barbara knew the entire dinner; that is to say, she knew what every person was focused on and what they were doing. She knew, deep down, there was no real danger. If you want to be ignored, hang out around Slam Bradley, apparently. But that didn't stop her from leaning up to the table and just over it, lowering her voice just a touch.

"GCPD is lying, Slam, and you can get into doors to talk to people I can't. Ask any old cop friend you can. Maybe go check out Estrella Tower, if you're feeling brave, or head to Gotham General. But the narrative that my dad was last seen walking out of that tower isn't good; it may not be a good lie, but if you're looking to discredit Jim Gordon, trying to create the idea that there's a connection between him and the alpha dog of the resurgent Gotham mafia isn't a bad way to start. Ten thousand up front, that includes operating costs; bribes, any equipment you may need, whatever is left of it is yours. Find out where my dad is, find out who in the department is out to make him look on the take, even better find out why and another ten thousand is all yours. I need this done and done right, and it has to be someone that knows him. Someone that won't believe lies about him......are you that man, Slam?"

Slam lit up a smoke and breathed it in while he took in Barbara's words. The pimp in the booth behind him started doing tricks with his knife. The whores whooped and clapped. Jim Gordon was missing. Nothing wrong with that in itself. He'd just retired, maybe he took a vacation? No. Whatever it was that had Babs spooked was serious. Family knew when something was wrong. The brush-off from the GCPD was SOP for them. They had no love for Jim anymore. None for Slam either. There were millions of stories in the Septic City, and this was but one.

"I'll do it," he said. "I'd do it for free, but if you must pay me just a few thousand to cover some debts. How in the hell do you have twenty grand just lying around?"

"Honestly? Algorithmic function integration, and a few jobs to detect backdoors in cyber security. Sony got tired of getting punked, and Stanford isn't a bad place to find talented coders with a little free time."

It was all true. A few classmates paid her a lot for a few algorithms; they really didn't have to but part of the deal was she not really sharing it with anyone else who asked so their dumb idea for an app could maybe have something of an edge on the third party app market, and maybe get them some summer break cash. Babs honestly never checked back in to see how it turned out, but they were sloppy aglorithms in the first place, so what did she really care? The Sony job was easier than it should've been, even if what she didn't admit is that she used the Batcomputer just a little, to make her life a little easier on that job. Nothing major, really, she had just needed the extra processing power.

"I know you're not always popular, but that's where the cash comes in. I need you doing this. And as strange as this is going to sound, Slam, if you get into trouble I need you to call me. I need you put me on speed dial, and call me. Always have your phone on you, and always have it powered it on."

The way the Batcomputer can track you, and if need be, Batgirl can save you.

"Something isn't right here. Layers of something-isn't-right, if my instincts are right, and I inherited my father's instincts for this sort of thing."

"It's Gotham, kid," Slam blew smoke as he spoke. "It's a rotten town built on a rotten foundation. It's never been right."

Slam stuck the cigarette in his mouth and dug out the phone. It was one of those flip phones that you paid for by the month. It could make calls and texts. He was either too drunk or too hungover to ever hit the buttons just right on texts. The battery on it was half charged.

"My phone will be on and waiting for you, Barbara. I'm sure when the criminal underworld hear I got a hundred and fifteen pound redhead as my muscle they will quake in fear."

"Keep it charged, Slam. And it's a hundred and twenty; crossfit builds muscle like you wouldn't believe. Good luck."

A quick wink, and the clutch was in her hand, her body slid from the booth. The last thing she did was laugh at the pimp as he shot her a 'dangerous' look, and try to hide her even more dangerous grin.
Dutch Hill
10:15 AM


Detective Sergeant Harrison Doyle sucked on a colorful Starbucks coffee as I slid into the booth across from him. Picture your average Irish cop. Ruddy faced, dark-haired, rumbled suit. That's pretty much Doyle in a nutshell. A squad supervisor in the GCPD's central robbery unit, he's also a crook's best friend. Competent and always looking for a slice of the action.

"Lamonica," he said between sips of his drink.

"Doyle," I said with a scowl towards his drink. "What is that?"

"Unicorn Frap," he said with a shrug.

"Riiight. Got a joke for you, Doyle. How many cops does it take to screw in a lightbulb?"

He burped and said, "None. They just beat the room for being black."

"Heard that one, huh?"

"A time or two. Now what do you want so bad that you call me in the middle of the night?"

I spent five minutes explaining my predicament; getting nabbed at Zinkman & Sons, the ride to Rupert Roth's house and his threat. Doyle took it all in with a look I'm sure school children give their teachers during a long lecture. Doyle slurped down the last of his frap and shrugged.

"So, what does he want you to do, and how much are you gonna pay me to help you with it?"

"I'll give you an even grand."

Doyle raised his eyebrow. "For?"

I leaned across the booth and looked Doyle up and down. "What are you in the pants, Doyle, a 32-30?"

---

Gotham Central
3:45 PM


Okay, Lamonica... you can do this.

I stepped out of my car and looked at myself in the reflection of the driver's side window. I'm a few inches taller than Doyle, so the pants ride up a bit, but otherwise he ended up being a perfect match. To even the most untrained eye, I look like a GCPD uniform officer. The badge and nameplate are fakes, Doyle can be bought but he's not stupid enough to give a crook his badge. The fakes pinned to my chest were damn good ones.

Getting through the front door was gonna be the easy part. Getting into the evidence room? Well, that's going to be another story. And leaving with what Roth wants? That's going to be almost impossible...

Gotham Heights
Last Night


"Black Spider."

"Is that like a cocktail?" I asked Roth.

"No. He was a man."

Roth ordered one of his pet goons to fetch him a drink. A minute later the man returned with a glass of milk that Roth took down in four swift gulps.

"Sorry, kid, I'm getting old. Gotta have my milk. Now, Black Spider was a man. He was like the Bat, only not. Back during the 80's, the town was a huge shit hole thanks to things like crack. Murder rate was through the fucking roof. The Black Spider was a vigilante, like the Bat, except he did not leave any of the scumbags alive. He used a gun and he fucking shot to kill. Summer of... '86, I think it was. He cleaned up whole sections of the Narrows by force. Cops start a manhunt for him, dealers but bounties on his heads. He gets capped right before the fall, two in the back of the head on a street corner. Nobody ever ID'd him so he went into the morgue as a John Doe, and all his belongings are in some GCPD archive somewhere."

"What does this have to do with me?" I asked, but I already had a feeling.

"One of the ways I make money now, a sideline business, is selling crime memorabilia online. You have no idea how much some dumb shit from Iowa will pay for the Penguin's fucking shoe or one of his goofy umbrellas, or some shit like that. If the Joker is good and capped like they say he is then I want something from him, like a lock of his hair or something like that that may be something we work out if this goes well. I want you to break into GCPD and take the Black Spider file, along with the evidence."

"That's over thirty years, Mr. Roth. What makes you think they still have it?"

"For your sake," sneered Roth. "They better have it."

---

Now

I took one last deep breath and started up the steps to Gotham Central. Ever since I was a teenager, I swore I wouldn't come anywhere near a police station if I could help it. And now? Now, I was willing walking into one to do what was without a doubt the dumbest thing I've ever done in my life. No, the dumbest thing I've ever done in my life was go to that Limp Bizkit concert. This was the most dangerous. There we go. That's better.
In Star Wars 15 May 2017 21:14 Forum: Advanced Roleplay
Name: Moff Vigor "Vig" Vespellian

Age: 48

Species: Human

Gender: Male

Homeworld: Ank Kit'aar

Appearance: Vig is skinny and tall -- gaunt and gangly are two words that could be used to describe his physique -- he has black hair that is receding, forming a widow's peak on the top of his forehead, and he has a prominent chin and long roman nose, and he has warm brown eyes.

Major Skills: Intelligence, surveillance, diplomacy, charisma.

Force Sensitive: No

Biography:

Born on Ank Kit'aar, Vigor Vespellian was the bastard child of a very prominent merchant. While Vig was born into poverty and hardship, his father and siblings thrived. The old man used his power and influence to become a high-ranking diplomat and statesman. He would gain the title of premiere, head of the planet's government. Vig, meanwhile, provided for his mother and himself by becoming a thief. When he was sixteen, Vig was arrested for robbery. On Ank Kit'aar, the punishment for theft was either death or exile. He chose exile and said goodbye to his homeworld, and his mother. The day his shuttle left was the first and only time he met his father, who only watched from afar as he disappeared into the sky.

The youngster found work in asteroid mines, grueling labor that went on for 14 to 16 hours a day. It was on the asteroid that he heard about the new war between the Republic and the CIS. Although not a clone, Vig applied for service as an engineer and was given a test. His test showed him to be a poor candidate for engineering, but he excelled in far more subtler arts. Vig received an officer's commission with the Republic Intelligence Service covertly, and overtly he was placed on the staff of a Courscant diplomat.

Throughout the clone wars, Vig helped establish intelligence networks through the mid-rim and outer-rim territories. These networks proved to be intelligence goldmines and help the Republic in the struggle. For his hard work, Vig swiftly rose through the ranks of the service achieving the rank of Colonel in the waning days of the war.

As the war ended and the Republic gave way to the Empire, Vig's role changed. He was now head of investigations for the Imperial Security Bureau, a job that required him to deal with the nastiest secrets of the Empire's greatest people. He gained a reputation throughout the galaxy as a man who knew where the bodies were buried. Even Emperor Palpatine relied on Vig's dossiers and files for political leverage against both allies and enemies. For his loyalty and service to the Empire, Vig was granted the title of Moff and became governor Druess Sector, a piece of space that includes his old homeworld. Vig's first act as Moff was to evict his father's family from the house they grew up in and demolish it, a brand new and opulent moff's manor built atop of the ruins of the old home.

Palpatine is now dead and Vig serves on Imperial Ruling Council. Through his connections with the ISB, his secret files, and his own personal intelligence operatives through the galaxy, Vig wields considerable influence and seeks to take the place of the fallen Emperor.
Gotham City
Diamond District
11:20 PM


A lock is like a woman.

It's expensive?

No, that's not it.

A lock is like a woman.

It's what stands between you and money?

No, still not it.

A lock is like a woman.

It requires just the right touch.

--CLICK!--

There it is. And there it goes. The deadbolt lock was free, leaving the single lock on the doorknob that I could have opened with a strong look. I popped it free quicker than a high school boy pops off his girl's bra. And just like the proverbial teen necking in the backseat of a car, I was in the promise land.

Through the door and down a dark corridor was Zinkman & Sons Diamond Exchange, one of the top diamond emporiums in Gotham and by extension the entire east coast. I am Ahab and this is my white whale, I am Javert and this is my Jean Valjean, I am the Trix Rabbit and these are my Trix. I'm at the finish line after sixteen months of prep, recon, and manipulation. I bribed bureaucrats at City Hall for copies of the building's blueprints. A hacker I know who owes me more than a few favors broke into the security company's mainframe to pull out their security schematics on the place. I dated Issac Zinkman's youngest daughter for six months just to get a feel for the family and learn any trade secrets. We had just broken up two weeks ago. Oh, Cinnamon. You had the face of a horse, but the body... of a horse. And now that I think about it, was Cinnamon your real name? I thought it was your nickname... and there was that strange way you laughed at my jokes, like a neigh or something...

....

Did... did I date a horse for six months?

Before any more thoughts of my potential bestiality could fill my head, something hard and firm found itself resting on the back of my neck.

"Don't move," a voice said from beside my ear. "You're coming with me."

"Or what?" I whispered back.

"Or--"

Something sharp and painful coursed through my body. My feet fell out from under me and I slammed to the floor writhing in pain. The electricity was still working its way through me when a black sack was pulled over my head. Just for good measure, a sharp kick to the face bloomed more pain through my body and knocked me unconscious.

----

Gotham Heights
1:12 AM


When the bag came off my face, I was relieved to see that I was not in a police station. That relief quickly vanished when I saw where I was. It was a large, open-ended room with high ceilings and ivory furniture that matched the ivory carpet, that matched the ivory walls. Pretty much, me in my black burglar outfit now stained with my own blood stuck out in the room like a sore thumb. Even the two muscular thugs flanking both my sides were dressed in ivory shirts, slacks, and shoes.

"Did I die and wake up in the 70's?" I mumbled to myself.

"If only kid."

In the middle of the room, in a big chintz chair the color of -- What other color but Ivory -- was Rupert Roth. I didn't know Roth personally, I wasn't big time enough to, but I knew him based on the stories I'd heard about his infamous fashion sense. He looked like an extra from a bad disco movie. He wore an ivory shirt with half of it unbuttoned, a large gold necklace and medallion caught in the steely gray fur on his chest. He had on a pair of ivory pants that would have looked embarrassing on a man half his age, but made Roth look clownish.

Rupert Roth was the last great Jewish gangster in America. Now days most people associate the mob with the Italians, and it is a fair association to make given the sheer numbers involved. But back in the day Jews were the top dogs in the underworld. Guys like Arnold Rothstein, Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lanksy handled their business like CEOs and quietly made millions. Murder and violence were involved, sure, but not like it was with the Italians. More importantly, they got out of crime and went legit. Roth had followed that model very well. A gambling empire amassed in the 50's and 60's went major league in the 70's and he removed himself from crime altogether by the time the FBI had started hitting the Gotham mobs hard. Now, the only organizations Roth belong to were the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club. But there was still that edge. He still had the juice that made him very dangerous, and had me scared shitless to be dragged into his living room in the middle of the night.

"Johnny Lamonica," he said after a moment of silence. "I've heard of you."

"Good things, I hope."

Roth waved his hand in a so-so manner.

"I hear that you're smart, I hear that you're a good thief, I hear that outside of some trouble as a kid, you ain't never been pinched."

"And that I like long walks in the moonlight and a good '62 Bordeaux?"

"I'm questioning your smarts, Johnny," Roth said, ignoring my joke. "First off, I've had a tail on you for a solid week and you didn't see him, and then your here with me making stupid jokes."

"Sorry," I said with a shrug. "It's a defense mechanism, I guess. Why have you been following me?"

"Issac Zinkman is a close and personal friend of mine. We go to the same temple, we sit on the same charity boards. He knows who I am and about my past. So, he comes to me asking about this guy dating his little girl Cindy--"

"Cindy," I said with a sigh of relief. "That's right, Cinnamon was her nickname... thank god."

Roth looked at me with contempt and a half second later, the muscled gorillas on my right slapped me across the face. My face, which was already operating at a dull painful throb, exploded in pain. My ears rang and I had to bite my tongue to keep from crying out. Roth stared at me long enough to make sure he'd gotten his point across before starting back.

"So Issac has this funny feeling about the guy his little girl is dating, especially after they broke up two weeks ago. So he comes to me and says 'Rothy, this putz made my little girl cry. Find out what he's got to hide and then fucking burn him.' And what do I find out, but the fact that this son of a bitch is an ace burglar, a burglar with a rep across town as reliable and smart, two things that are almost impossible to find when it comes to crooks. Not only is this guy a burglar, but he's planning on robbing my dear friend blind. You, my friend, are in for a world of hurt."

"Unless," I said cautiously, mindful of the two looming thugs on either side of me. "If you were going to hurt me, you would have done it right away with no spiel, or you would have turned me in to the cops. You did neither, so I'm waiting for the part where you give me options."

Something passed across Roth's face. It could have been a smile. It may have been a snarl, or it may have been gas. It was something of a mix between the three.

"Smart," he said. "Just like they said. Option 1. I inform Issac that you not only broke his little girl's heart, but also that you were in the middle of stealing his entire life's work when I caught you. Knowing my friend like I do, he will kindly ask me to feed your own balls."

"A cannibalistic eunuch. Not the way I wanna go out."

"Option 2. You're a thief. Steal something for me and we will call it quits."

"Steal what, and from where?"

That look again. I was now certain that pained grimace had to be Roth's version of a smile.

"The where is easy. GCPD headquarters. The what? Now, that's gonna take some explaining..."


Name: Johnny Lamoncia

Age: 37

Alias: Black Spider

Skills/Abilities: No powers, but Lamonica is an expert burglar and thief. He can handle himself in a fight and knows enough about weapons to aim and hit something.

Biography:

From the time he was a kid, Johnny lived to steal. Growing up in the East End, the single child of a single mother, Lamonica learned at a young age to provide for himself when he wanted something. He would shoplift starting at the age of six. By the time he was eleven, Johnny was boosting cars for joyriding around Gotham. When he was fourteen he started turning the cars in to chop shops and getting paid.

When he was sixteen, Johnny was arrested for grand theft auto and went to juvie. His time there made him a better thief, a more cautious one who never wanted to see the inside of a cell again. At the age of eighteen he was released out into the world, that night he preformed his first burglary.

Almost twenty years later, Lamonica makes a steady and quiet living as one of the best burglars in Gotham. Outside of a few dogged cops, he is not on anyone's radar and he has a reputation as smart and effective. Now, in the aftermath of the Joker's death, Johnny decides to forge a new path: Supervillain.


Chinatown
2004


Slam Bradley rode shotgun in the unmarked car. Captain Grogan sped through the city at "Fuck-Traffic-Laws-I'm-a-Cop" speed. Slam smoked and saw the sights. Open-air drug markets. Fiends scuttling across streets like cockroaches. Hookers peddled their stuff by the curb. Corner boys trading blowjobs for blow. Slam cracked the window and blew smoke.

Slam smiled. He felt alive. He felt jazzed. Grogan's squad worked the streets. They ran the streets. They were the landlords out here, and everybody paid their rent or they got hit. Two-Gun Jack was a hick from somewhere out west, Oklahoma or Texas or something, and he had that southern twang prairie accent. The hump wore two six-shooters on both hips, the hump wore shit-kicker boots and a white stetson with a goddamn bolo tie. He chewed tobacco and thought he was Jonah Hex reincarnated. He looked like a clown on the surface. Beneath it, he was all killer.

Grogan spat tobacco juice in a coffee cup. He wiped his mouth and said, "Samuel, how you been liking these past six months?"

Slam beamed. "Fantastic. Anything to get me out of Gotham Central and Vice."

Vice straight bored him. It was either hooker rousts or gambling busts. He was too well known around Gotham to work undercover. Vice required him to roust prosties and break bookies. It was straight shit-work. His brain was wired for the street. He needed to be out here in the thick of it. This was his element. Grogan picked him because he was big and intimidating. The captain promised muscle work and he made good on the promise. Anybody he wanted worked over Slam worked. Fist work, brass knucks work, rubber hose work, followed by dental and surgical work for the poor sap.

Slam flicked his cigarette out a window. The butt hit a passing wino in the forehead. The wino flipped it away and shook his fist at the car. Slam laughed. Gorgan roared.

The GCPD car rolled through Chinatown. They met up with Detectives Tommy Burke and Mal Harris. They piled back into the car. Slam drove and Grogan rode shotgun. Burke and Harris sat in the back. They were headed to a Tong summit to act as muscle. One Tong family swore vengeance on another Tong family. A Chinatown war loomed on the horizon. It defied Grogan's mandate for the mobster squad. They kept the peace at all costs.

The convoy pulled up to a fish factory. They got out with pump-action shotguns and automatic pistols. Slam had his big .45 in his hand. Grogan wore two six-shooters on his belt. Grogan stuck a plug of tobacco in his mouth and strutted into the factory with a bullhorn in his hands. The factory floor: Wall to wall to Chinese men yelling in their heathen language. Six Nation Tong on one side in red, the Yellow Dragon Tong on one side in yellow. They jabbered at each other, flashed knives and guns and threatened to go to war right then and there.

Two-Gun Jack held the bullhorn to his mouth. His voice amplified across the din. The bullhorn made it screech weird. Grogan's voice sounded inhuman. Slam realized he was speaking Chinese. The Okie fuck gave the Tongs the spiel in fluent Mandarin. The gist: Calm down right now or we will send in the riot squad and bash all your heathen brains in.

The panic subsided. Grogan grinned. He motioned the rest of the squad to flank out. Burke and Harris covered exits and corners with their guns. Grogan and Slam walked towards a card table in the middle of the mob. Fat Ricky Fat of the Six Nation sat on an opposite side from Hau Song and the Yellow Dragons. A third chair for Grogan sat between them. Two-Gun Jack sprawled into the chair. Slam stood behind him as muscle. Hundreds of eyes fell on Slam. He winked en masse to the crowd.

The negotiations began. The two old men spoke through Grogan. They talked to him and he talked to the other. All eyes fell on the negotiations. No noise from the crowd. You could hear a pin drop. Ricky Fat said something in his gobbledygook. He pounded the card table. A buzz filtered through the crowd. Ricky Fat made the throat slash sign.

Hau Song shook his head and rattled off gibberish. Grogan held both hands up. He talked, talked, talked in their tongue. He pointed to both men. He expounded on some theory that made both men's heads nod. He finished. They both agreed. The crowd clapped. Wolf-whistles broke out.

Grogan got up smiling. He pulled Slam close. Slam could smell his tobacco breath as he whispered in his ear. "I give you peace. Peace for our time, son. Go find Burke. We've got some more work to do."

--

Burke drove and Slam rode shotgun. Grogan and the head of Six Nation Tong sat in the back. Fat Ricky Fat spoke in Chinese to Grogan, Grogan gave it right back. They laughed. Slam looked in the rearview mirror. He saw a pistol and hatchet in Ricky Fat's lap.

Grogan switched to English. He said, "GCPD caught a dead body two days ago. A Chinese girl stabbed to death in a Chinatown motel room. The victim was Ricky Fat's niece. Her murderer is Yellow Dragon. Some punk she was fucking is the fiend. He saw her with some Six Nation boys and got jealous and stabbed her sixteen times. A real Romeo and Juliet story. I learned all this at our summit just a few moments earlier. Knowing Homicide like I do, they'll give the killing a cursory investigation and drop it. If it's not white, they don't care. This degenerate who killed Ricky Fat's niece has tarnished his family honor. Old world customs dictate that he must regain that honor with vigorous bloodletting."

Slam saw the hatchet blade glint in the sparse light. Ricky Fat held it up swung it around the backseat gracefully. Grogan laughed. Grogan said, "To advert full on war, Yellow Dragon has agreed that this heinous crime must be avenged. Up here on the left, Thomas."

Burke pulled up to an apartment. They got out. Slam and Burke walked point, Grogan and Ricky Fat behind them. They hit the fourth floor. Apartment six. Slam had his .45 out, Burke gripped his nine mil. Grogan pulled his six-shooters. Ricky Fat had a hatchet in one hand, his pistol in the other.

Grogan said, "Go!"

Burke kicked the door. Once, twice, three times. It snapped on the third kick. It swung back on its hinges. They pushed through it. They walked in on five Chinese junkies geezing up on Big H. Slam and Burke aimed at the same man. They blew holes through his chest. Two-Gun Jack opened fire with both six-shooters. He turned two men into swiss cheese. Six shots a piece center mass. Ricky Fat charged the one man left alive. He screeched something in Chinese and hacked at the man with his hatchet. The man screamed and fell to the floor. Ricky Fat kept hacking. Grogan nodded, he spun his guns like a cowboy and holstered them. Burke went green. Slam holstered his piece. Grogan put a hand on his shoulder and lead him and Burke out.

"Let Ricky Fat have his fun. We need to talk since we have a moment."

Grogan spat tobacco on the floor and shook his head. He talked over Ricky Fat's screams/the killer's moans.

"Tonight's your last night working with me for some time, boys. I did what I could, but you both gotta pay something for that mess with the drug dealer from last month. Thomas, you're going to the Eastern District flexsquad to work drugs. Samuel, they're packing you to Homicide. It's supposed to be temporary. How long it'll last, we'll see."

More screaming inside. Choked and phlegm filled death rattle. Blood ran out the door and pooled at their shoes. Burke dry-heaved. Slam saw a severed eyeball float by.

Gotham Gardens
Now


Smoke filtered across the casino floor. Old ladies chain-smoked unfiltered cigarettes and worked slot machines with dead eyes. Dolled up ex-strippers wobbled across the floor on too tall heels, dishing out chips and cigarettes. The heavy make-up couldn't hide the miles and the years. They were in that downward spiral that would end with them picking up tricks on street corners. Drunk businessmen played blackjack and eyeballed the girls, none of them too drunk or too bold to touch them. Geeks in Hawaiian shirts and Shriner fez hats played roulette. Slam sat at the casino bar on his lunch break. "Lunch": Six shots of rye and three beers. A straight up liquid lunch.

He moonlighted as a security goon for the cut-rate casino. It was shit work, but it paid. He worked over drunks who got too handsy with the girls. Card cheats lost teeth, card counters got to count the fractures in their arms. He got paid more than the rest of the goons because of notoriety. People still recognized him from time to time. Geeks wanted photos with Slam, geeks wanted to pose with their fist on his chin in a faux knockout punch. One card counter asked for his autograph after he fractured the fuck's arm. He spat blood and smiled. He said he had something in common with Goodnight Garcia; both got their asses handed to them by Slammin' Sam Bradley.

Slam watched the beer swirl in his glass. He was in debt up to his eyeballs. Gambling was his vice. Gambling along with booze... and cigarettes. Gambling, booze, and smokes were his only vices. He owed the Russian Mob four grand. He'd get a few hundred working tonight and tomorrow at the Gardens, but there was no PI work to be had. The law firms wouldn't call him back or give him the time, civilian walk-ins were rare in the business. Dames in distress coming into a PI's office was straight out of the movies and books. Slam didn't even have an office. He worked out of his flop over on the East End. The only steady clientele happened to be the underworld. He had a reputation among the city's crooks. And it was because of the bank job in '05 and all the shit that came afterwards. He gulped the rest of his beer down and looked at the dregs in the glass.

Chinatown.

That's where he always went when he had enough booze in his system. The night they got street justice for Fat Ricky Fat's niece fucked Slam up in more ways than he would ever admit to even himself. He crossed a line that night. Beating shitbirds was one thing, but he had killed them. He'd taken a life; a life of a scumbag, but still a life. The transfer to homicide saved what little bit of his soul that he had left. He got teamed up with Gordon and the rest was history. But those days were over. As dead as the junkie rapist he gunned down in Chinatown all those years ago.

Slam pushed himself away from the bar and started back to his security post. He already had his eyes on a needle-nose prick that was getting too loud at the craps table when his phone went off.

Nobody called him. He had no family, no friends, and sure as shit no clients.

"Hello?"

"Slam Bradley?"

He ducked into an alcove and put a finger into his right ear to try and block out the sad sounds of the casino.

"Yeah, who is this?"

"Barbara Gordon, Jim's daughter, I need your help."
<Snipped quote by MyCatGinger>

Kinda my point about coming up with a vote mechanism to prevent having someone select Mein Kampf, or something that most everyone has already read. In the case of Atlas Shrugged and Mein Kampf, I was given one in HS and one during undergrad. I'm good.


Don't worry, you'll love my mash-up fan fiction, Hitler Shrugged.

Also, I recommend Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut.
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