CHAPTER ONE: HOT FUZZ
"Make that one with the works and the other plain," said John Horace to the hot dog vendor.
"Did you get one with the works, Horace?" called his partner, Bruce Mann. "Hurry it up already! I'm starving!"
"You'll live, Manny," John replied. He gave the vendor the money in exchange for two hot dogs. He sauntered over to the green and yellow striped muscle car to hand Bruce the one with every topping known to man. "Here, enjoy it while it lasts."
"You know I will!" Bruce greedily took it from his hands and was about to take a bite when the radio crackled with familiar words.
"Mark One, Mark One," said the dispatch operator, "come in Mark One…" Bruce hit the dashboard, disgruntled at the call.
"You better answer that, Manny," John said as he made his way around the car to the passenger side. Bruce set the hot dog on top of the dashboard and picked up the receiver.
"Mark One here," Bruce answered with slight disgust. "Go ahead."
"Code Thirty; a possible 211 in progress on First and Main."
"Roger that. We're on our way."
"That's the First National Bank over there," John said. "Seems that we have ourselves a robbery." Bruce reached for the hot dog, ignoring the comment and John immediately took it from his hands. "Start the car will you?"
"But I haven't eaten all morning!" Bruce complained as John set both hot dogs on the dashboard. He blew a sigh and started the sport coupe with a roar. Jamming his foot onto the pedal, he pulled away and sped off for the scene. "Whoever tripped that silent alarm isn't that smart," Bruce commented.
"Burglars aren't that smart to begin with Manny."
"The only thing they do right is let us bust them." Bruce laughed and John rolled his eyes at the poor joke.
The two arrived on the scene as a man dressed in black with a sawed-off shotgun and a bag with bills falling out escaped the bank's doors. He raced down the street before ducking into an alley. John hurried out of the car to race after him.
"Freeze!" he shouted. "Police!" The burglar turned and John quickly ducked behind a nearby canister and pulled out his high-powered revolver as the burglar fired. John fired back blindly, hoping to strike. The burglar kept running when he realized he us uninjured. John stood quickly and chased after him.
Jumping over upturned trashcans and storming through packing boxes, John pressed against the wall, quickly dove down or ducked out of shots when the robber reloaded and fired. He heard tires squeal and suddenly the sports car barreled through the alley. The thief attempted to dive away from the large steel monster but succeeded only to strike the front of the car and landed on the hood.
"Bruce!" John shouted. "What are you trying to do, break his legs?" The suspect moaned and slipped onto the ground, dropping all that he carried. John quickly sheathed his revolver back into his holster and jogged up to the man in question.
"At least I stopped him," Bruce said sheepishly as he got out of the car.
"Alright, turkey, get up," John snapped as he grabbed the suspect's arms and yanked him forcibly to his feet. He pulled out the handcuffs he kept tucked in the waistband of his slacks and snapped them shut over the man's wrists.
"You just earned a ride to Downtown Metro," Bruce said, grabbing for the bag and gun.
"I ain't done nothin'," the man snapped. "You ain't even read me my rights, cop!"
"You already know what they are if you're so smart." John opened the door and pulled back the bucket seat to stuff the suspect inside.
"That was just too easy, eh Horace?" Bruce quipped. The suspect glared at them both.
"Take up a legal trade next time." John said as he forced the suspect inside the car and shut the door.
"Hey man, I got bills to pay!" the thief barked.
"We all do," Bruce said as he returned to the driver's seat.
"That's one for the day," John murmured as he entered the passenger side. "Who knows for the rest?"
"Hopefully not much." Bruce grabbed for the hotdog and Horace slapped his hand away.
"Drive," he ordered. Bruce grunted and threw the car in gear, speeding back for the police station.
As John worked on the report for the afternoon, Bruce headed out into the hall and made a beeline to the candy machine. He banged on it twice and out came a chocolate bar.
"Alright," he said happily. "Lunch!" He ripped open the silver wrapper and took a bite, relishing the sweet flavor. As Bruce leaned against the wall, chewing thoughtfully, he spotted John coming down the hall, appearing worried as he pulled into his leather jacket.
"Come on Manny," he said. "We got patrol."
"I'm coming," Bruce replied and followed him. "Hey Horace, what's with the long face?"
"I got a disturbing song from that turkey we caught," John answered. "Remember, Giorgio Strozzi of the Roscoe crime family?"
"Yeah, what about him?" The two exited into the bright afternoon sun and walked towards the muscle car parked in front of the building. "Strozzi's doing time for trafficking. I got him too easy on that one." Bruce got into the car and started the engine.
"He tells me that he's trying to get money for a new operation," John said as he slipped inside. "And to pay for a fix he's got that he can't shake."
"What's the fix? Tabs? Dust? Blow? Crank?" John shook his head.
"He said it's got no name. It's some kind of new drug that's like an upper and a downer all in one as well as makes you feel ten feet tall and bulletproof."
"Upper and downer?" Bruce said in shock. "Unable to feel anything…? How is that possible; what's the motive here?"
"Don't ask me. Ask him that."
"I'll make him talk, I always do."
"Don't count on it, Manny. You're not the regular Boy Scout."
"Hey!" Bruce gave his partner a sharp glance. John smiled and said nothing. Bruce shook his head and pulled out onto the street.
"First thing on the list is to check out this address: five-twenty-four Fourteenth Street."
"What's going down over there?"
"A possible dime-dropper named Alex."
Bruce pulled up in front of the apartment complex and idled the engine as John got out and walked up the stoop. He entered and went upstairs, looking for 524. Hearing the door open moments later, John gave a small sigh of relief when he heard the familiar heavy steps of his partner Bruce who followed. Finally finding the door, John knocked and waited patiently.
"Who's there?" a voice called from inside.
"Alex?" John inquired.
"Yeah, who's askin'?"
"Police," John called. "Open up."
"What's this about?" Alex demanded. "How do I know you're really are you say you are?"
"Open the door first and see."
"No way!" John knocked again, this time with force. Bruce came down the hall, reaching into his jacket. John put up a hand to signal for him to wait. "Open the door! It's police business. I'm Detective Horace and with me is Detective Mann. We just came to talk." John listened closely and heard creaking from the other side. He tensed and backed away to withdraw his revolver. He nodded to Bruce and his partner nodded back before kicking in the door.
The potential informant slipped out of the window and raced down the fire escape.
"I got the door!" John said and bolted down the hall. Bruce ran inside the clean bare apartment with cheap modest furnishings. He hopped out of the open window and landed on the fire escape. Down below he spotted Alex's scrawny frame in torn jeans and army flack jacket, making a mad dash to get away from his potential pursuers. His long greasy brown hair blew behind him in the wind.
Bruce raced down the steps, reaching inside his jacket to withdraw his semi-automatic pistol. He pulled back the safety and fired a warning shot in the air. Alex froze in place and immediately put his hands in the air.
"Alright!" he screamed. "Alright, just let me live, will ya?" John ran up to the man in question and grabbed him by the arm, twisting it behind his back.
"Just what were you running from?" he demanded as Alex winced. "You've got something to hide?" John placed his revolver into his holster and forced Alex to the car.
"You got a warrant?" Alex snapped as Bruce followed, also placing his gun away.
"No," Bruce answered, "but we got a few questions."
"We'll see once we get there," John said in response.
"And where's that?" Alex asked.
"You bet," Bruce said, grinning.
"Look, I told you everything I know!" Alex protested and smacked at the worn tabletop. The table showed years of abuse and this latest hit added to its various marks. "I just know stuff! I ain't workin' for nobody!"
"Tell me again," Bruce said quietly, leaning forward in his backward-turned chair. He studied the man with the long greasy brown hair, well-worn flak jacket, and brown eyes nervously darting to him, to John and to the tabletop. Nervous sweat covered Alex's sallow face. "Tell me straight and tell it so that I heard you right."
"Don't lie to us," John said coolly as he leaned against the far wall as he crossed his arms and propped a foot against the wall.
"I heard that Strozzi's running things from the inside, man. That's all I know."
"Do you believe this guy, Horace?" John shook his head.
"You'd better start talking before my partner gets nasty." Alex tensed as Bruce cracked his knuckles, grinning devilishly.
"He's trying to get big money to start some new business!" Alex squeaked.
"And what business is that?" Bruce asked.
"I don't know!" Alex cried, then moaned and ducked under the table. "I don't know! Please don't hit me!"
"I think you know!" Bruce yelled and kicked at the table leg, forcing Alex to flinch. Alex quickly sprang to his feet as Bruce rose and kicked the chair away. Alex cringed as Bruce grabbed his collar and leaned closely. He avoided Bruce's intense gaze and ducked his head. Bruce slapped the table. "Look at me!" Alex looked up warily. "Now tell it to me straight, or I'll have to tear it out of you!"
"No way man!" Alex shook his head. "You're crazy! Crazy!"
"Hold on, Bruce!" John left the wall and grabbed for his partner's hand that had curled into a fist, ready to throw a left hook into the suspect's jaw. "Think about what you're getting ready to do!" Alex paled.
"I'm getting answers," Bruce said evenly and shook off his grip. "That's what I'm ready to do!"
"Alright!" Alex wailed. "I'll talk! Just don't hurt me, okay? Okay?" Bruce grunted and let go, forcing Alex to stagger back. He retrieved his chair and plopped down into it as Alex wavered, appearing ready to faint. He took several breaths before answering and the color slowly began return to his face.
"Strozzi..." he said shakily. "He was working his way up you know, from the small time to the big fish." Alex looked up at Bruce with wide fearful eyes. "He was onto something big before he got busted!"
"And what's that?"
"Makin' a new drug... I don't know what they call it. It's supposed to be stronger than anything ever made, man. You take one hit and boom! You need more so bad, you'd die without it!"
"We already know that. What else?" John snapped.
"He was running a few rackets, you know, businesses to keep himself alive."
"Like what?" Alex let out a small cry.
"I can't do this no more, man! I can't!" He sank into his chair and held himself tightly, rocking as he shuddered. "Don't ask me no more! I don't know nothin'!"
Bruce sighed and grumbled, "This is getting us nowhere."
"We're getting somewhere," John said. "If he was running a business before getting busted and our guy here says that he's still running them from the inside, then they must still be in operation."
"You make it sound so simple!" Bruce snapped and kicked at Alex's chair. Alex became suddenly still and held himself even tighter.
"What?" Alex squeaked.
"Where's the business located?" Bruce demanded.
"Down in the slums... the old Sombocian Tenements."
"Let's go," John said.
Bruce pulled up in front of Sombocian Tenements, an old, grand hotel with fading colors, dirty windows, and a broken neon sign that flashed faintly of its residence, highlighting its poor reminder of its former glory days. Flickering lamps fluttered light from within, displaying shadows that ran along the walls.
"How can this old run-down place be still in business?" Bruce asked. "It must've been more lively than this over forty years ago..."
"Looks can be deceiving Bruce," John said.
"Let's raid the place."
"Not so fast." John got out of the car. "Come on, we're just going to ask a few questions." Bruce sighed and turned off the ignition.
"Where's the fun in that?" he complained as he left his car and followed his partner. Heading up the worn, crumbling steps, John gave the rusty door a forceful shove. Bruce shouldered it and it gave in, opening slightly.
"Can you fit through the gap?" John asked and slipped inside.
"The way I've been missing meals, I can slip through the cracks in the floor!" Bruce grumbled and kicked at the door to force the gap wider so he could enter.
Once Bruce got in successfully, John walked directly inside, acting as if he had done it a hundred times before. Bruce hurried along his side grabbed him by the arm before he turned the corner in the hall
"Hold on, Horace," he said quietly. "Something doesn't feel right."
"There's life in this place, just that no one's breathing at the moment."
"Don't be funny." Bruce squeezed his arm. "I'm supposed to be funny."
John shook him off and headed straight for the door at the end of the grand corridor. "Take the other hall."
"Come on, Horace! Stop joking."
Before John raised his hand to knock, he froze when he heard footsteps. He pressed himself against the wall as Bruce immediately pulled out his pistol and waited on the other side of the door.
"Man," said a voice from inside the room. "That Gognitti's gonna get it for screwing up that steal!"
"He ain't gonna last long in the big house," said another. "Not until Strozzi gives the word and bam! He's a goner!" There was laughter. John put up a hand to signal to wait. Bruce blew a frustrated sigh and kept completely still.
"So when Alex supposed to get here?" the first voice continued. "He's runnin' late."
"Do you think he took the stuff and ran?"
"Nah, Alex's too smart to do that."
"What if he decided to pay someone a visit?"
"And that someone with the pretty blond boyfriend you mean?" Again was laugher.
"They ain't gonna catch us."
John let down his hand and reached inside his jacket, nodding to Bruce. Bruce grinned as he kicked in the door and pointed his semi-automatic pistol ahead.
"Police, freeze!" he shouted. John came in after him, also withdrawing his revolver and pointed at the general direction of the two men in tailored suits, stunned at Bruce's and John's arrival.
"No way!" One man in a pinstripe black and white suit with a tan fedora and aviator-style sunglasses drew his gun first. Bruce turned his attention towards him.
"You ain't got nothin' on us," the other in a plain gray suit and red cowboy hat shouted.
"So back outta here real quiet-like," snarled the gangster in the pinstripes, "and you won't get shot at!"
"I beg to differ," John snapped. "We have some questions, so answer them or you're heading Downtown!"
"Forget it, cop!" The thug fired a shot at Bruce and Bruce reeled back, striking the floor. He seethed, clutching his blown shoulder as the thugs in suits charged through John and out the door. John fell on the ground from the weight thrust on him and groaned when his head rapped against the doorframe.
"Bruce," John cried as he quickly scrambled to his feet. "Are you alright?" He rushed to his partner and kneeled beside him.
"I'll live," Bruce said painfully and pushed him away, "Now go get that idiot that shot at me!" John gave a reassuring pat on Bruce's cheek then ran out of the room after the two gunmen.
John burst outdoors as a sleek black sedan pulled away from the curb and barreled down the street. He ran out onto the middle of the road, taking shots at the tires. The car screeched as it rounded the corner and John blew a heavy sigh.
"Unlucky for you, I've got eagle eyesight," he muttered and returned to the green and yellow sports car parked in front of the building. He ducked a hand inside the open window and grabbed receiver of the radio.
"Mark One to Control," John called. "This is Horace."
"Control clear," came the reply.
"I need a warrant on a black sedan with plate number six-two-five King John Charles."
"Roger. Mark One, stand by." Bruce came out of the run-down hotel moments later, clutching his bleeding shoulder. John looked up and Bruce smiled faintly.
"It's just a flesh wound," he replied, "that's all."
"You can hang tough all you like," John retorted, "but it looks a lot worse from standing over here."
"Then don't stand over there." John frowned at the poor joke.
"Are you sure you can drive like that?"
"I'll be fine, don't worry; I've handled much worse!"
The radio came to life again. "Mark One, there is a want on that vehicle," said the dispatch operator. "All units, be on the lookout for a black sedan with plates six-two-five King John Charles."
"Control, this is Mark Eight," said another officer over the radio. "I just spotted the car on Taylor and Fifth."
"Proceed with caution; suspect may be armed and dangerous."
"That's our cue," said Bruce.
"Let's go," John responded.
The green and yellow muscle car barreled down the street, tires squealing as it made numerous turns down alleys and other shortcuts to reach its destination. They pulled in front of a deteriorated building that had wood paneling over the barred windows. John quickly exited the car and made his way around the back while Bruce took the stairs inside the building.
John came through the side of the building to find one of the gunmen who shot at Bruce running towards another car that was parked across the street.
"Freeze!" John shouted. The gunman turned to shoot, but three shots were fired from behind, causing him to fall backwards against the car. He slid to the ground, wheezing. John turned to see Bruce crouched behind a trash canister, holding his pistol ready.
"What did you do that for?" John shouted and ran to the suspect. The man gasped for breath as blood drained from the bullet wounds. John quickly checked for a pulse and found it skittering wildly.
"You lousy cop," the suspect wheezed. "I ain't done a thing and you shoot at me!"
"Shut up and save your breath," John snapped. He turned to Bruce who made his way across the street. "Bruce, where's the other guy?"
"He's tied up at the moment," Bruce said, grinning.
"Take care of this." John left the thug and ran to the dilapidated building. He kicked in the door and made his way inside.
Entering through the only open door once inside, John spotted the other gunman in the gray suit with one wrist handcuffed to the handle of the refrigerator and the other reaching for his pistol that was several meters away. Every time he reached close enough to the weapon, the tips of his fingers pushed it further away. John sauntered up to man that appeared desperate for the firearm and stepped on it.
"Guns aren't allowed on my watch," he said and kicked it away.
"Stuff it, cop!" the man snapped, glaring at John.
"What's your deal? Why shoot at us and take off?" John grabbed the gangster's free arm and twisted it in a painful hold, forcing him to let out a yelp in agony. "First give me a name and I won't break your arms!"
"Who's Jack Finito?"
"That's me, cop!" John let go.
"Alright, and your partner?"
"My brother Vinnie... look; let me outta here!"
"No dice." John heard a gunshot and he let go of Jack, then quickly ran to the window. He seethed when blinded by the glaring afternoon sun and shaded his eyes. John spotted a form that appeared to be Bruce standing over Vinnie Finito, gun in hand. He fired another shot then took off running.
"Bruce!" John yelled and raced out of the room.
John stumbled down the steps only to get grabbed by Bruce. John quickly batted him off and glared hatefully at him in return.
"Did you just hear that?" Bruce asked. "I was about to come up there!"
"Yeah," John snapped, "and I can't believe what I just saw!"
"What are you talking about Horace?"
"Why did you have to kill him, Bruce? He just clipped your wing, that's all!"
"Vinnie Finito." Bruce tilted his head in puzzlement as he raised an eyebrow then ran to the rear of the building to find Vinnie Finito.
"Oh man!" Bruce cried, "Oh man, who did this?" John stalked after him, his expression stony.
"I want to say you did, Manny." Bruce whirled around in shock.
"No way!" he cried. "I didn't shoot this guy! I was at the payphone, calling for an ambulance."
"I saw someone out the window that looks a lot like you, Manny." John pushed Bruce back by the chest. "What jive are you giving me? You're trying to say you've an evil twin running around?"
"You gotta believe me, Horace!" Bruce pleaded. "Yeah, I shot at him, but only because he was about to shoot you first! He wasn't injured that badly..." Bruce grabbed John by the shoulders. "Think about it, Horace. I wouldn't finish off a dying man, you know that! I'm in the force to protect and save lives, not waste them!"
"I'm sorry Bruce..." John pushed aside his hands. "Call the meat wagon, okay?" Bruce's face shadowed in disbelief.
"Yeah, whatever," he mumbled.
John headed back inside the building and made his way up the stairs to ask Jack Finito several questions. The sirens of the incoming ambulance closed in, their wail a crescendo in the distance.