Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Issue #4: Looking For Trouble

Walking down the dimly lit hallways of the old building complex, Nicholas Ward listened to the various sounds coming from each apartment. There were blaring televisions of unrecognizable programming, crying children, and other domestic disturbances all adding to the chaotic symphony that was Gotham’s Sunrise Estates. Nick found it humorous how some of the most rundown and poorly managed apartment buildings got the most colorful names. He guessed it helped people feel better about where they lived, because there was nothing ‘sunrise’ or ‘estate’ about this place and no manager could convince one otherwise.

The only reason Nick was there was to follow up on a domestic violence call. He heard the initial call about ten minutes ago, but had decided to investigate after another separate call came in shortly after in regards to shots fired in the same building. Most officers still would’ve waited for a homicide call, but despite the tumultuous nature of Gotham City as of late, Nick was a hopeful person. He believed in the capacity for people to change, even in a city void of a hero. The other officers blamed it on his naivety in being new to Gotham, but Nick had been a seasoned officer in London; he just preferred to believe in the power to change despite the world around him saying otherwise.

Apartment 13C. Standing in front of the door Nick could hear yelling. Good, he thought, at least maybe the shots fired weren’t related… unless they were arguing about what to do with the body?

He knocked on the door. “Gotham PD.”

An immediate silence fell on the apartment before more arguing ensued about Nick’s presence at the door. He could hear footsteps approaching the door, but they stopped as the couple’s argument once again took priority. Nick could tell the man was getting more upset about the woman having apparently called the cops. The man yelled a few derogatory insults towards her before he started to rant about not wanting to spend the night in jail because of her.

Nick knocked on the door again. “This is the Gotham City police department. You need to open up.”

Nick could hear the man telling her to wait, but before he could join her at the door she had opened it and began flooding Nick with the whole play-by-pay of their argument and their relationship.

“Ma’am, ma’am… please I need you to calm down and…”

“Wait a minute?!” the woman interrupted. She leaned forward nudging Nick out of the way, looking up and down the hallway, and then back to Nick. “I thought I called 9-1-1. Who are you?”

Confused at the woman’s actions, Nick looked back her, “Ma’am. I’m with Gotham PD.”

“Then why do you sound like Harry Potter?”

Keeping a stern look on his face and swallowing his initial sarcastic response, Nick replied, “My name is Officer Ward and yes, I am from England…” sighing, “like Harry Potter, but I assure you I am an actual police officer with the Gotham City Police Department. Now if I can speak to you about…”

But before Nick could continue two shots went off down the hall gaining both his and the couple’s attention.

Moving himself and the woman inside their apartment, Nick drew his sidearm and stayed close to the door.

“Oh man, that’s one of them sci-fi stun guns you guys usin’ now.” said the woman’s boyfriend.

Nick just half glanced back at the man before he peaked his head back around the corner of the doorway. At first he didn’t see anything, but then suddenly a man burst out of one of the apartments, followed by another chasing him. Nick figured he was the shooter but was out of bullets, as he didn’t bother to turn and shoot the man pursuing him.

Stepping out in the hallway, “Gotham PD, stop where you are!” Nick said as he aimed his weapon toward the on-coming man.

The man paused briefly as he saw Nick, but then quickly resumed his sprint down the hall towards Nick.

“I said stop.” Nick said again now standing squarely in the hallway, but the man didn’t stop or slow down.

Nick fired a shot; the man attempted to dodge as best he could, grinding against the wall after being hit, but never fully stopped. Nick was confused. He should’ve been stopped dead in his tracks. Even hyped up junkies stumbled in a haze of low powered shot.

“He’s got a magnetic pulse diffuser!” yelled the stocky man pursuing him.

Nick looked back at the man in pursuit and then back at the now crazed man still barreling towards him. He didn’t know what was going on, but Nick knew the look in this man’s eyes. He was getting past Nick one way or another. Nick felt otherwise.

Looking down to his right, Nick grabbed a plastic tricycle that was left out in the hallway and threw it at the man just as he was about to barrel through him. The man, surprised, threw up his hands to deflect the flying object, but as the tricycle flew from the man’s body, Nick was there grabbing him before he could regain his focus on getting past him. Nick then spun the man around, slamming him into the opposite wall. The man grabbed and punched at Nick trying to break free, but was stunned when Nick’s left knee came bashing in just below his ribs. The man pushed off the wall trying to regain ground, but suddenly his feet were flying off the ground as Nick spun him around again—this time taking the man crashing down to floor, the air shooting right out of his body as Nick pinned him down.

Nick turned the aching man over and cuffed him as the other man came upon them. Still straddling the cuffed man, Nick drew his gun again. “And who are you?”

“Woah,” the man responded putting his hands up, “I’m a cop.” Still breathing heavily from his pursuit. “Detective Vincetti.”

“Where’s your uniform?”

“I’m undercover” Vincetti said as he put his hands on top of his head to catch his breath. “It’s kinda hard to get the drop on a guy wearing Wayne product placement.” He said nodding to Nick.

Nick glanced down at himself briefly before he resumed his questioning stance towards Vincetti.

Detective Marcus Vincetti scoffed. “Here, my badge is my back pocket. Don’t worry I’ll pull it out nice and slow” he said as he lowered his right hand towards his back pocket, Nick following his move the whole way. “See. Same team.”

Nick relaxed at the site of Vincetti’s badge and holstered his weapon before he got up and dragged the unknown criminal up with him. Marcus took over and grabbed the man moving down the hall as if nothing had happened. Nick was a little perplexed and frustrated as he turned to watch Marcus and the man walk away.

“Thanks” was all Vincetti said as the two continued toward the stairs.

“See. He sounds like a cop.” The woman said pointing to Marcus as he was walking away, having watched the whole scene from inside her apartment.

“Yeah baby, but Harry Potter here went all kung fu on that dude and messed his shit up!” the man said as he stood next to his girlfriend. “I know. I know. He’s like that… that ‘Transporter’ guy. You know the bald dude with the car and the kung fu and shit.” He said waving his arms about. “Haha, Transporter Guy!”

Nick looked back at the couple and stared at the man who had his hand up waiting for Nick to embrace him in some urban mutual handshake. Instead, Nick just looked at the man and shook his head.

The man dropped his hand, defeated, “Aw, that’s cold man. I let you into my house and…”

Nick interrupted him, “Just… just be nice to each other and keep it down.” He then walked away trying to catch up with Detective Vincetti.

# # # # # #

“Ms. Jannecki… Mizz Jannecki!”

Gabby Jannecki, busy doodling in the margins of her notes, looked up to see both her engineering professor and her classmates staring at her. Normally for Gabby this wasn’t uncommon, being one of the only two females in the mechanical engineering department. But this wasn’t the first day of class and the often asexual looking Zarina Hacknapple, an unfortunately named daughter of two hippies, had recently undergone an extreme makeover, care of her roommate, and was sharing some of the unwanted attention Gabby was used to.

“While I’d like to believe you are so enthralled by my lecture you feel the need to write down my every word, I and Mr. Lawrence…” her professor pausing momentarily to kick the desk leg of asleeping student as he made his way over to Gabby’s, “…both know I’m really not that interesting.”

Gabby moved to cover her notebook, but her professor was now standing in front of her.

“Ashamed of your notes Ms. Jannecki? Please, I’m excited to see what interesting things I’ve had to say today.”

Keeping her head down, Gabby moved her arm away from her notebook to reveal her page full of drawings with random engineering notes sprinkled here and there.

“Ah, I see.” He paused momentarily, wanting to admonish her. He knew that she was one of the department’s best students, but still he wanted to make a point. “Well, while I can admire your artwork for its mechanical elements this is not a design oriented class, so please try and hide your disinterest a little better.” He said as he walked back to the front of the class.

The rest of the class remained fairly uneventful for Gabby and the other students. She hated being rude to her professor, but he had agreed himself that he wasn’t that interesting. Plus, it wasn’t him so much as it was her. She enjoyed engineering, but it wasn’t her passion. For Gabby, engineering was her way of repaying her mechanic father who had raised her all by himself. He tried his best to surround her with maternal figures, often asking if she could tag along with the wives and girlfriends of the guys in the shop whenever they went shopping or took their own daughters out, but Gabby loved her father and enjoyed being near him. For Gabby, this meant she spent a lot of her time in the shop with him asking him questions and learning about the cars and machinery he and the others worked on. While she loved making her father smile working on cars and other machinery alongside him, her favorite thing to do was to help the custom design guys with various metal work and fabrication.

Even after discovering her previously dormant girly gene her freshman year of high school, she was still happy to put on one of her father’s old shirts and do a little work around the shop. Often times some of the guys would slip her a little money whenever she helped them out on a project or came up with a really good design, but her father always tried to discourage them, saying she needed to focus on her schoolwork and not do their work for them. Still, they managed to sneak her money here and there, telling her it was for college, saying her father couldn’t argue with that.

And if he’d known, it would’ve been a hard argument to win. He knew she was smart and he believed in her, often telling her she could become an engineer and work at some big company like Wayne Enterprises, and live outside the city like most of the wealthy of Gotham, but he still worried about her. He worried that she would want to become a mechanic or, worse, a custom fabricator helping people to ‘pimp’ their rides. It wasn’t so much that bothered him, as a lot of fabricators made good money-- but he knew in Gotham City most of the clients in that line of work were crooks and thugs, some even Arkham Asylum’s most notorious.

He wanted better for her and he knew if she could get a good education, and get out of Gotham all together, the better off she would be.

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