Sunday, March 3, 2013
The Bard: Track 1 (Preview)
Track 1: The Lost Love Song
A bleak blonde man lost his edge, living in a land of loss
Bathe, shave, brush and floss
Day in and out, mopes and cries
Scouring the weary world for worth with piercing blue eyes
A heavy heat hung miserably about the air, loitering to mock the room’s broken ceiling fan. A yellowing keyboard clattered off like a machine gun. The monotonous chorus of clicks served as a fitting anthem for dull deskwork, if it could still be called that. The office hadn’t seen the likes of a desk in months, though it faced no shortage of paper. Somewhere within the ocean of documents, a golden plaque gasped for air— engraved with the name of the slob responsible for its suffocation.
SGT. DET. Edison B. Locard
A soft blue glow lit up the face of a disheveled man in his thirties. The man’s face was glued to his monitor. Perspiration dripped out of the messy mop of blonde hair, leaking onto the man’s brow.
“Let’s see what we’ve got…”
Edison Locard wiped the sweat off his forehead.
“Clara Anderson’s thirty-five year living streak ended when a family of five bullets moved into her chest. Her spouse, Jonathan Anderson, discovered her body in their apartment after coming home from work—”
A long yawn interrupted the man’s narration. Despite attempts liven up deskwork with a creative tone, Edison couldn’t stave off the boredom overtaking his brain. It wasn’t that the detective failed to take his work seriously; he simply yearned to be out in the field investigating murders. Writing up reports on someone else’s findings didn’t account for a good time in Edison’s book— especially not his former partner’s.
“According to the ballistics analysis of Detective-Specialist Warren Michaels, the lack of powder burns on the victim’s hands rules out suicide. The fact that Michaels even considered the possibility of suicide with points to his lack of common sense, considering the corpse was found with a full round in its chest. Not to mention the missing gun.”
Edison highlighted the jab at his former partner, realizing the report’s tone was getting bit too unprofessional even for his standards. His finger hovered over the delete key. The detective smirked as he envisioned Chief of Detectives Harold Delveccio’s jowls flop in disapproval. As much as the prospect of simultaneously annoying both Michaels and Delveccio tickled him, Edison pressed down on the key.
“Michaels identified all six slugs as .357 caliber. Rifling marks match serial number 04673218-457, a Smith and Wesson revolver flagged in the database as sold to an illegal redistributor. Vis a vie, the bullets are a dead end and the gun is MIA.”
Edison scrolled down to the last page of the report. It contained two photos with brief write-ups underneath.
“Suspect Jonathan Anderson, the vic’s spouse, story checks out.” Edison continued. “The task force sees no reason to continue looking in Jonathan at present. In addition to his rock solid alibi, there is no discernable motive. The investigation has gathered almost all positive feedback in regards to the Andersons’ marriage.”
Edison paused, turning his piercing blue-eyed gaze down at his mess of a desk.
“Except from the testimony of the vic’s sister, Audrey Baines,” Edison read slowly. “Due to the resentful and bitter tone of Miss Baines, the task force considers her a person of interest.”
The detective picked snatched a photo from the mess of papers. It was a portrait of Audrey Baines, the woman mentioned in the report. Her beady, yellow eyes stared back him like the eyes of a hungry mouse, twitchily alert.
“Audrey, unmarried and unattached, is successful interior decorator living in Caramel, a short drive from NYC. When asked about any problems between her and her sister, Audrey admitted that she and Clara had been estranged for seven years, attributing the rift as a result of her demanding career. She also blamed her severe agoraphobia. Coincidentally, Audrey’s inability to leave the house doubled as her alibi.”
This time a splitting headache interrupted the detective’s reading. Edison stroked his head back to a tolerable level of pain.
“Psych evaluations confirm the prior existence of such a condition. Audrey also produced a decade worth of receipts for home deliveries as well. All clients confirmed her work as a ‘Skype-only service.’”
Edison shook his head.
“Since when has claiming to home alone during the time of a murder ever been a good defense?” the detective mused aloud, no longer reading his report.
“You have to love the way the system coddles murders these days. Decorating rooms without entering them… Psh. Yeah, that’s what a normal person does. Wish observable crazy was grounds for warrant. Then again, I probably shouldn’t talk considering I’m having a full-on conversation with myself.”
Edison leaned back, rubbing the tuft of yellow whiskers growing out the bottom of his pointy chin. He peered quizzically at the ceiling, wishing the solution would unravel itself in the muggy air above. The detective dropped his head into a pillow of papers, letting out of a long groan of tired frustration. He turned his head sideways, meeting eye to eye with a mahogany picture frame. Behind its glass, a lanky upstart ten years his younger slouched beside Edison Locard’s wife. Though decked in a snazzy black suit and tie, the young man’s long blonde hair knew neither scissor nor comb. His gritty chin looked like overused sandpaper crossed with a dying Chia-Pet. The man looked more like a bum than a groom, especially next to the beacon of beauty that was his wife.
The breathtaking bride in the photograph did not share the unkemptness of her partner. Each strand of the buxom beauty’s flowing locks radiated dazzling platinum. With elven ivory skin and a set of glinting emerald irises that could outshine all the jade in China’s treasury, the girl both defined and transcended the very concept of beauty. Her smile spanned ages, lighting an eternity of hope in all who’d look upon its pearlescent splendor. She had the look of goddess; a loveliness that deserved immortality.
The insolent knave that lured her in grinned unappreciatively beside her. It turned Edison’s stomach. The detective slammed the picture down.
“You have no right to smile.”
Upon hearing the distinctive knock, Detective Locard’s body shot upright. Edison conditioned the response long ago, prone to naps as he was.
“Locawd, it’s Hawold Delveccio, I’d like to a woyd.”
The door flung promptly open, allowing the obese Chief of Detectives to squeeze through. At 6’ 8”, the cop had the height of a basketball player, yet his girth made him more fit to be a basketball.
“Chief, you don’t have to announce your full-name every time you—”
“Someone needs to make these things mowah accessible,” Harold grumbled, playing the part of contortionist to conquer the doorway.
“Or you could cut back on the donuts,” Edison jeered, damming the laughter creeping up his trachea. “You don’t have to single-handedly preserve that old police cliché, you know…”
“Alweady with the jokes?” the Chief sighed, stuffing his face with another donut. “I don’t know why you think you can talk down to a superior like… JESUS CHWIST, LOCAWD.”
The Chief did a spit-take of crumbs at the sight of Edison sty/office.
“I figured the son of God would be a little above making fat jokes,” Edison snickered.
“Edison Locawd, the fiwst pewson to witerally dwown in papah wowk,” chided the rotund police chief.
“Eh, my office is no dirtier than your Boston crème ‘stache,” the detective retorted.
“You awh lucky I put up with youwah lip,” the Chief muttered, dusting crumbs from his thick brown mustache. “Don’t think you might be able to moh things accomplished if you spwuce things up? A life in disawway is a life in decay.”
“Harry, give it up,” Edison said, smirking. “Asking me to clean is like asking you to pronounce the word extraterrestrial.”
“I’ll give up when you gwow up.”
“Only if you stop growing sideways.”
Disappointed, the Chief swung his jowls side to side.
“Poke fun at me all you want, but you need to stop making excuses,” the Chief advised sternly. “I know that case has got a gwip on youwah mind. Shut it out. Focus on the pile of open cases you got theyah.”
“I made peace with the fact I’d never be allowed near that case,” Edison muttered. “That’s not the problem, it’s the system. If you’re smart and have a decent lawyer, it’s easy to slip away from justice.”
“Have you fohgotten about—” the Chief started.
Edison stood upright and slammed his hands on the desk. Papers fluttered off the desk like a frightened flock of pigeons.
“No,” Edison said softly, sitting back down. “That’s the case that’s driving me over the edge. Over three years and not a shred of evidence… Not a single suspect.”
“You can’t west on youwah lauwals just because he’s inactive,” said the Chief.
“That’s what you think I’m doing?” Edison snapped.
The Chief fell silent.
“My best friend’s life will not be safe until the day that bastard is caught,” the detective growled. “I want to catch him more than anything.”
“Wanting it isn’t enough,” Harold said. “Wesults. That’s what I need to see.”
Edison shrugged and looked away.
“You need to get youwah act togethah,” the Chief continued. “Youwah office was nevah this bad. I hate looking at it. Clean it up alweady, will you? Back up youwah conviction. Show me you take this job sewiously and add some pwogwess to that passion. I want to see that outstanding detective I used to know.”
“You’ll have to dig him up,” Edison said somberly.
“No, wake him up,” the Chief corrected.
“Don’t act like you don’t know how useless I am now, shoveling all this deskwork my way.”
Harold Delveccio grimaced sympathetically, feeling the defeat in the sleuth’s tone.
“Maybe I have been a bit hawsh on you,” the Chief said, picking up a few papers.
“A bit?” Edison scoffed.
“Wemember I got my shawah of stwess,” the Chief said. “Commissionah Suawez is bweathing down my neck about catching this serial killah. Can’t blame Julian though. You can bet the mayah’s putting the same pwessha on him.”
Edison nodded distantly, his interest waning fast.
“It’s a chain of aggwavation, weally,” Harold rambled on. “With the economy the way it is, we don’t need a guy destabilizing businesses like this. New York City is the cowpowate capitol of the planet. It’s bad enough that—”
“Listen, I really can’t talk,” Edison interrupted “My boss will eat me with sprinkles if this report isn’t on his desk by the end of the day. You know, serve and protect… copy and collate.”
Originally coming to discuss demotion, something in Harold Delveccio’s gut— be it either pity or faith— had caused him to reconsider. The Chief could practically hear Edison’s broken heartbeat, clicking desperately like a lighter low on oil. Bringing up demotion was a lot like blowing on dying campfire. The gust of oxygen could either resuscitate Locard’s flat-lining career—or extinguish it completely. Detective Locard’s edge had dulled considerably, but Harry could still feel faint heat— embers of Edison’s past passion struggling to reignite on its own.
“Is that all you wanted to say?” Edison asked.
Harold cleared his throat anxiously.
“I hate to um, say it, but it might do you uh… good if you—”
“If this is about me dating again, drop it,” Edison cut in. “I get more than enough pep talks from Leon.”
“That’s erm, not what I was getting at,” the Chief said. “I have an idea that weally might help you.”
Edison raised both eyebrows and shook his head.
“Enlighten me…” he sighed.
“We could uh, lighten your load,” Harold proposed, pulling on his collar.
“You’re assigning me an intern?” Edison asked, purposely misinterpreting the Chief’s shaky euphemism.
The Chief nodded slowly.
“Wow, you guessed it,” the Chief chuckled nervously. “We awah giving you a fwesh face to wok with, still in college.”
“How’d you come up with that idea?” Edison asked, smirking.
“Thwough teaching anothah we leawn the most about ouwselves,” Harold answered, taking a brief pause to think. “And this office is getting cleaned one way or anothah. If you won’t do it, the intewn—”
“I beg youwah pawdon?”
“I don’t need some kid throwing off the perfect chi I’ve strived so hard to maintain here.”
The Chief shook his head,
“My decision is final,” he grunted, facing the daunting task of fitting himself back out.
“Don’t let the doorway fit you on your way out,” Edison snickered.
An hour’s worth of editing later, Edison finally sent his report off to Chief’s inbox. The detective exhaustively pressed the power button on his computer, drained by the insignificance of the assignment. He sloshed through his trashed office and made his way out into sterile hallway. He shielded his eyes, blinded by the sheer whiteness. One Police Plaza, the NYPD’s relatively new central headquarters, décor was completely modernized— as sleek and chic as the iMacs nestled on each desk.
A stubborn creature of habit, Detective Locard had every last detail of his old office imported to the new building. Since Edison lacked the rank or authority to merit his own office, the Chief had to pull some strings to get him one—as well as permission to work solo. In the past, the detective’s exceptional ability gave tolerance to his eccentric tendencies. Dulled and unproductive as he’d become, Edison knew his privileged days were numbered. Rather than respect, his name was propped up by pity. He could feel it in the eyes the other, keener detectives. It burned. Rather than risk making eye contact, Edison kept his gaze down at the over-waxed floor, watching his haggard reflection amble underfoot.
The tired blonde tapped the down arrow beside the elevator, saying a prayer for emptiness.
As the elevator doors parted, Edison breathed a sigh of relief.
“Thank god I—”
A meaty hand slid between the crack of the closing doors, dashing Edison’s hopes for a quiet descent. A tan, muscly cop lumbered into the elevator and pressed the button for floor B-2, the address of 1PP’s state-of-the-art ballistics center.
“How’s the shit in your toilet?” the hulking cop greeted crudely in a heavy Brooklyn accent.
Edison gave not so much as an acknowledging nod to the loud man’s presence. Though many tried, it was difficult to ignore the boisterous Brooklynite, sporting a look as brash as his attitude. Scarlet aviators hung over a titanic schnoz, razor sharp hair-spikes and sleeves rolled to his shoulders with inked muscles on full display… The man looked more like a club bouncer than ballistics expert.
“YOU DEAF, LOCARDI!?” the gaudy cop roared in Edison’s ear.
“I heard you, Warren…” Edison muttered.
Detective-Specialist Warren ‘Ace’ Michaels… just the man he wanted to avoid.
“Sorry, if I confused ya there, broski,” Ace said, giving Edison a firm slap on the back. “Just sayin’ hi in a creative way. Lookin’ for a new way to introduce myself, ya know? I want people to know Ace has entered the room the moment he enters it.”
“Have you tried wearing a bell?” asked Edison.
“Bro, tell me you finished that Clara Anderson report,” Ace said excitedly, ignoring his ex-partner’s jab.
“You best write me up proper, SON.”
“Yes, your dead-end of a ballistics report has been submitted,” Edison replied.
“What you get a papah cut?” Ace asked, frowning. “What’s with the piss, Ediss?”
“Can you not talk for two seconds?”
“Think quietly about tattoos or something. Just do whatever it is you normally do to amuse yourself when there’s no one around for you to annoy.”
“Hop off, Locardi,” Ace barked. “Not much love coming at me from your direction. Been that way for a while. Not sure how I feel about it, bro.”
“You’re pretty fuzzy on a lot of things aren’t you?” Edison asked snarkily.
“Watch it…” Ace warned. “I’m passed the funny business.”
“Yeah? That’s why you work undercover on the side, now? To stay away from it?”
“Good one douche, I’m as clean as anybody. I’d appreciate an end to the shit talkin’. Getting more than a little old, buddy.”
“Know what else is getting old?” Edison asked, finally looking Ace in the eye.
“My lack of closure.”
Ace shook his head and sighed.
“Don’t even, Locardi. I’ve been bustin’ my ass night n’ day tryin’ to turn that bullet into a lead. You’re just bitter ‘cus you ain’t allowed a foot from that case. You think you’d do better, huh? Given your shit streak? I seem to recall a certain serial-killer still runnin’ high and dry.”
“That’s what I thought,” Ace sneered, his left nostril flaring up. “What happened to ya is a truly sorry thing. No doubt. But lay off me, will ya? I ain’t no bad guy. I’m a detective. Same as you. Damn fine one, if I do say so myself.”
“You’re a detective-specialist,” Edison corrected. “It’s an honorary title, as in, made-up. Similar to how you call yourself Ace. You’re an expert marksman who isn’t officially a—”
“Whateva, Locardi,” Ace interrupted. “I stuck my nose in lots of pies and came up blueberries.”
“What the hell does that even mean?”
“It means I earned my title, same as you. I’m ambitious and I take every opportunity and job that I can.”
“Warren, you know your way around a gun. That’s your niche. Save yourself some embarrassment and stop trying to branch out. Calling you a fine anything is going out on a limb. A flimsy one.”
The hue of Detective Michaels’ face matched that of his sunglasses.
“Warren, you have a lovely evening,” Edison bid insincerely as the doors closed.
The detective bolted out of One Police Plaza like a Kenyan Olympian sprinting off hot coals. Fortunately for the homeward gumshoe, his commute was quite walkable— no need to take the subway or a cab. The man’s pace slowed significantly the moment his feet touched the sidewalk. The smooth, orange oxygen proved immediately therapeutic, blustering blithely into his sore pores. To Edison, breathing in Manhattan’s brisk aura felt like taking the first bite of a crisp Macintosh. Despite all the city’s airborne toxins, the spicy aroma of the constantly colliding culture made the air a pleasure to inhale. A vibrant mixture of Manhattanites made up the cement of the city’s summer sidewalks. Venders, tourists, businessmen, street performers, beggars, lovers… all unique pieces making up the puzzle that was the populous, and Edison Locard fit in perfectly. He rather enjoyed being a cog in the Metropolitan machine. After all, he shared his home with the Giants, the Yankees and the Knicks— for better or for worse. Edison Locard’s heart truly rested at the core of the Big Apple. He adored NYC— a city so alive, it had no need for personification. The gargantuan advertisements, the flamboyant street life, the breakneck pace… Locard loved feeling that he was part of a living breathing organism. People often smiled at him as he passed, recognizing who he was and what he did.
The off-duty detective withdrew his ancient flip phone from his coat pocket, deciding to check his messages. Text messaging served as Edison’s main means of communication, or more accurately… avoiding communication.
(1) NEW TEXT MESSAGE FROM: L. SILV
L. Silv stood for none other than Leon Silverman, the acting CEO of Apollo Investments. Despite his preoccupation running the biggest private equity investment firm in the world, Leon always wedged his dear friend Edison into relentless schedule. While a normal person would practically kill to be best buddies with a multi-billionaire, money meant nothing to Edison. In fact, if anything, Leon’s wealth made things a bit uncomfortable. Edison felt like a pebble attempting to befriend a mountain.
Up for a little soiree at my penthouse, tonight? In dire need of my wingman haha. Plenty of exotic birds looking to get their beaks wet- if you catch my drift. ;-)
“No, Leon, your drift blew right past me.”
The squire was indeed a suitor with no need for assistance. Women salivated over mere the prospect of breathing the billionaire’s air, let alone sharing his fine linen sheets. The Englishman’s wit met his wealth, and he had debonair to match his dash. Truly, with a veritable god like Leon Silverman at its helm, Apollo Investments could not have been more aptly named.
no thx. work conflict... mayb coffee n sparring instead later this week – ED
While Edison knew he could use a night out, Leon’s little soirée landed last on his list of places he wanted to spend one. Little. The billionaire’s choice in adjectives could not have been worse. When it came to Leon’s parties, the word ‘hedonistic’ fit far better. Fountains flowed with the finest spirits and wines, and that was only the tip of the ice sculpture. Mind numbing melodies sung by music’s hottest of the hot rocked the penthouse— being able to perform at the party was the musician’s honor. Only the upper-crustiest of Manhattan’s in-the-know nightlife attained Silverman’s coveted invite— the invite Edison Locard casually rejected it via text.
The anti-socialite was still scarred by the first Silverman shindig he’d attended. Edison pledged the first to be his last henceforth with a toilet seat as his witness. Social overload wasn’t the issue, the party simply proved too rich for blueblood. With his high ranking job, Edison wasn’t poor by any stretch— he just disliked overindulgence. While he did take occasional pleasure in the CEO’s money sinks, the detective preferred a quiet conversation over a Café Americano à la Starbucks— or a round of sparring of course.
“GESTAPO-LICE, GESTAPO-LICE! WHO GETS JUSTICE WHEN JUSTICE GETS STOPPED BY POLICE?”
Members of the Occupy NYC movement had once again marched their way to Police Plaza, protesting the uncalled brutality unleashed upon them by the city’s resident ‘power-drunk pigs’—at least that’s what Edison gathered from a crudely crayoned sign held up my a shirtless man in a Viking hat.
Detective Locard had quite an open mind. As with the previous Occupy Wall Street movement, Edison didn’t necessarily disagree with the political activists’ plea against corruption and the unbalanced distribution of wealth, but he did oppose their clogging of rush hour traffic.(Not to be confused with the Dutch dance troupe that literally clogged during rush hour traffic.)
While held up at the crosswalk waiting for the protestors to pass, a huge advert hung upon a distant skyscraper caught Edison’s eye. The ironic ad featured the latest Broadway production: Atlas Shrugged, the Musical.
“Ah, Broadway. The memories I have with that stage…”
A stout woman standing beside Edison snuck a peek at his ears, checking for a Bluetooth. Seeing none, she widened the distance between them. Edison’s habit of self-conversation often produced such a reaction. Like usual, Edison didn’t even notice the woman’s discomfort, lost in his own sweet recollection. He pined for the way his heart leapt each time the door handle to Christina’s dressing room turned, clutching the bouquet of scarlet-tipped yellow roses nervously. He’d given his love a tribute of flowers ritualistically. Cultivating a garden would have saved Edison a small fortune, but money hadn’t mattered much to him anyway. The cost of tickets, bouquets and cab fare were all minor expenses in his young quest for companionship. Edison’s stomach gurgled at the thought of all the skipped dinners. Lost in the mesmerizing ether of days past, Edison could almost hear their song playing.
“Shadows grow so long before my eyes
And they're moving across the page
Suddenly the day turns into night
Far away from the city
But don't hesitate 'cuz your love won't wait”
Suddenly, it occurred to him that melody had not emanated from his imagination. This wasn’t just another forlorn conjuration, a nearby street musician was actually playing it. The enchanting tune led Edison to an odd street musician sitting upon the stoop of a closed law office. The guitarist’s case sat beside him, filled to the brim with bills. So taken by the street performer’s rendition of “Baby, I Love Your Way,” Edison felt like time suddenly ceased to exist. The musician’s elegant caress of guitar strings was a level of skill matched only by pitch-perfect singing that exceeded even that of Peter Frampton, the originator of the song.
“Ooh baby, I love your way, everyday
I wanna tell you I love your way, every way
I wanna be with you night and day, ooh yeah”
The performance transported Edison back to his and his wife’s third date. The taste of his cheap lager returned to his tongue, and his backside felt the ache of the hazardously rusty metal chairs. Christie too sang to Edison. The very same song. The blonde man had visited that crummy karaoke bar a few times in the past year, for whatever reason. It only brought more pain, seeing young lovers dedicating drunken odes to one another. They lived in a world he had to chance of returning to.
“Moon appears to shine and light the sky
With the help of some big glitter's
Wonder how they have the power to shine, shine, shine
I can see them under the pine
But don't hesitate 'cuz your love won't wait”
His mind’s next destination was his wedding day waltz. Each step, sweep, spin, and turn was mapped perfectly in the sleuth’s noggin. Like watching the fall of the Berlin wall, Edison smiled as he felt the barricade placed around his sweet memories crumble. The feelings conjured by Frampton’s hit were so strong, Edison hardly noticed the street performer’s peculiar getup. The musician wore a grey trench over a dark woolen hoodie— a more than questionable choice of attire for a sweltering summer evening. With a red and yellow knit scarf and oversized wayfarer sunglasses obscuring the man’s face, he looked a bit like the invisible man. The street performer so much talent, there could have very well been a famous musician hiding underneath those wraps.
“I can see the sunset in your eyes
Brown and gray and blue besides
Clouds are stalking islands in the sun
Wish I could buy one out of season
But don't hesitate 'cuz your love won't wait”
Upon the song’s completion, Edison emptied his wallet into the guitar case and went on his way.
“This is over a grand,” the musician said softly. His lime-green acoustic guitar vibrated with the nostalgic tune once more. “You were… moved?”
Edison turned to face the street performer.
“It brought back some memories,” he said.
“Of a loved one?”
“Divorce?” asked the guitarist between slow, depressing strums of an elegiac beat.
Edison turned away and took two steps.
“You know the line the priest gives, till death do you part?”
The musician nodded.
Edison pointed at the street performer.
The street performer abruptly stopped playing.
“My condolences,” the odd guitarist said softly. “Anyway I can help ease your pain?”
“Sure, find a way to save this city,” the detective answered sarcastically. “God knows I can’t anymore. I’m a glorified paper pusher who’s too pitied to get the demotion he deserves. I used to think that—”
Edison stopped in midsentence, noticing the guitarist’s hand shakily gripping the frets of his silent instrument.
“On second thought, I’d rather not ruin your evening with my problems.”
The musician lowered his head.
“Take care of yourself,” Edison said, smiling faintly. “Good luck with the music. Try not to waste waste all of that on weed. Your next investment should be a lighter set of clothes. It’s summer, in case you haven’t heard.”
Edison wandered down a nearby alleyway. He slumped against a dumpster, able to make out the sound of the musician strumming a different love ballad in the distance.
“Guy sure knows how to profit on sentimentality.”
Edison pulled out his ancient flip-phone and stared pensively at the screen. A single droplet of brine crept to the corner of his eye socket, contemplating a leap onto the cheek. The image displayed the tiny low-res screen was taken over two years ago by his wife.
The timestamp read: MON 12-18-11 7:26:02 AM— six hours and twenty-three minutes prior to…