A Perfect World.
The entire day, there had been this sullen kind of expectant energy brooding over the dark empty spaces between the buildings. Thick clouds overhead, not raining, but not letting it be doubted for a minute that it would rain when it was good and ready. Ragged shreds of mist were piling off the harbor and slowly being torn to shreds across the street corners, like saltwater taffy being stretched too thin. In another time or another place, I would have said it looked like good weather for ghosts. Here, I knew it meant a night out.
It was dark in the city, and in the glass my reflection moved across the surface of a concrete jungle. My concrete jungle.
Something was going to happen. Call it a hunch or an instinct, I know the truth. There are times when you just KNOW. Because everything is right for it: the sky, the wind, the earth, the people, the place. Everything just aligns and you can see the pattern of events rushing at you like the headline of a newspaper.
If you’re paying attention, that is.
I throw Max’s hat across the room and it ricochet’s off his nose.
Yowp! he says, waking up.
“We’re going out.” I say as the first lightning flash of the night plays behind me, and I grin at him. He looks terrified.
This is going to be fun.
He catches up to me at the first corner, out of breath. Didja get a tip, Sly?
A call from HQ?
A freelance client?
Will youz quit walkin so fast! S’like you wanna mow somebody down!
I lean into the wind like I was wrestling it, and tilt my brim down a notch. “I just don’t want to be late.”
“Something’s going to happen.”
How do you know?
The sirens are the only answer I need to give him.
I’m around the corner before Max can starts saying Whut’s does sirens for and there, just where he ought to be, is my antogonist. My foe. My prey.
Something in the back of my mind says “Let there be justice.” And behold, I am behind him in less than a moment, hauling backward with titanic strength.
“Not tonight, Harry. You picked the wrong time to try to pull something off.”
Ged off, gumshoe! I got no time to play wit yoo!
“Doesn’t matter, Harry. Cause it is time to face me, whether you like it or not!”
Squad cars come flying over the hill. My Valkyries. My Cavalry. My Archangels. Harry Ape decides he’s seen enough. n a few seconds he’ll be fleeing down–the wind brings me a fleeting scent of rain-slick concrete and coal smoke, and the lightning flickers behind the water tower like a dying TV in a dark room–THAT alley. I know the exact moment he’ll start to move, i can taste it, and I’m in motion a split second before he is.
I catch a few glimpses of the scene as we pass. The shrieking woman upstairs pointing rigidly out her window. The dumbfounded child, who has never seen anything like this before and surely never will again. The squad car barreling forward in midair, frozen as in molasseses or zero gravity, it’s wheels spinning uselessly as it rams it’s way forward through the air. The perfect moon through a momentary and providential rent in the thunderclouds, framing the rooftop behind which it is caught in infectious luminescence. Max squawking something comically overexcited into a comically oversized phone. disappearing down a dark street like a rabbit into a warren is one Harry Ape, so all the rest is only stage setting.
Now what would be the perfect touch, make this the perfect chase scene?
How about that last squad car swinging into our path, headlights blazing?
Harry stumbles as the tires squeal in front of him. He backpedals hard, but I’m already waiting for him. Spotlighted against a wet brick wall, I slam him to the lamp post.
“You have the right to remain silent, Harry,” I snarl, then pause to let the thunder punctuate that, “and I guess you know the rest.”
And I looked at what had been done, and behold. It was damn good.
There’s just quiet enough to hear the ratchet of the cuffs going on before the rain starts sheeting down.
I meet up with Max at that all-night breakfast place. He looks wet and confused, and he’s nursing a a tall black coffee. The steam wraps against the window, where the rain washes down outside bending the streetlights that fight their way through.
I order bacon and eggs. And pancakes. “I know I usually have just a donut, but I feel like celebrating.” All great hunters celebrate after a mighty hunt, right?
Max frowns. Ok, Sly, spill. How’d you know Harry Ape wuz gonna hide is gettaway car in dat lot?
I grin and shake rainwater out of my fur. “You’ve been tagging along with me long enough, Max. You tell me.”
Uh, I don’t think that was the answer he was looking for, Dat loud lady who witnessed it called ya?
Ya got a tip from a contact?
You saw dat dat car had a license plate, even in a used car lot where none of the other ones did?
Um… he glances down into the coffee, as if the answer is going to be floating there. Then he snaps his fingers. Yer secret criminal past gave you da experience and insight to know that if Harry Ape robbed a bank, dat was the lot he’d leave his gettaway car.
“Max. I didn’t know Harry would be there. I didn’t know he’d rob the bank, I didn’t know he’d have a get-away car. I didn’t even know what crime I’d be stopping when we left the office.”
His face could be a dictionary entry for the word blank.
“I just looked at the sky. The stark black and white poised jaggedly over an endless urban scar of skyline. It was perfect. The only thing that it needed was a criminal and a detective. So I provided the detective, and I knew it would provide the criminal.”
I know he doesn’t understan. Yet. He will someday. You can say it’s a noir cliche, buta cliche is only a truth repeated to the point of tedium.
Max blinks. You… feel alright, Sly?
“Never better,” I say as my food arrives. And I speak the truth.