Hustler Sinbad: Book One: Sinbad

Interlude: Lt. Detective Lawrence J. Hanft


By Jason Jarman

It had been a long day, as rotten as the weather. Dark grey skies pounded raw sleet down on me, all day long, as I wasted my time, trying to do my job.

I guess I'm getting too old for this shit. And it shows in my job performance.

It's all been downhill since that fucking freak kid and that belt showed up. It had been months since that incident with the church. Dammit, I'd caught the little mother fucker! I had him under sedation, under arrest, and under observation.

Little prick had caused millions of dollars of damage. He'd not only fucked with me, he'd fucked with every hard-working tax-payer in this city. It was their money that would have to pay for all his destruction.

We didn't even get a chance to run that belt through testing. How the hell he got his hands on it, I don't know. From the looks of it, he had to pry off a heavy air vent, climb up three flights of sheer vertical tin, and then break open an unbreakable lock box to get the belt back.

But he was too big, too muscular, to make it up that tiny vent. Fuck if I know how he did it. But he did it.

Everyone on the force was nice about it. They all shook their heads, mouthed words of sympathy, said that if they'd been in my shoes, they couldn't of done anything better. But still, I fucked up. I had the prisoner in my hands. I had his weapon of mass destruction under lock and key. And somehow, the little shit outdid me.

Then he never came back. He never committed any more acts of mass destruction. He just fucking disappeared on me.

Funny thing, I was thinking about him this afternoon. The sleet was coming down at a slicing angle---almost horizontal---and I was cold and wet. I stopped off at Rosa's for a cup of her horrible coffee and a smoke. It was warm as an oven in there, so warm I started to nod off.

As I drifted off, he came into my head. That kid, no older than 16, with biceps three times the size of his head, able to lift a semi-truck like it was a Kleenex box. And that belt he kept tugging on to get stronger and stronger. It was like something out of a movie or a comic book. It wasn't real life as I knew it.

It scared me.

Rosa stopped by with a fresh pot of crud, and I took another cup. The first taste is always the worst; it's bitter and strong. But it kept my eyelids propped open.

I decided to look over my notes. I'd spent all day tailing a known drug dealer who, according to informed sources, had himself 10K worth of uncut heroin. I'd been after this asshole for three months, and every time I hauled him in, he was clean. Apparently, he didn't use, but he did sell. To catch him, not only with the goods, but with 10K worth of the goods---that would put my falling star back in orbit.

I could almost taste it. I'd make Detective, First Class, get a raise, all the good stuff. And I'd get one more monster off the streets.

I tasted Rosa's coffee in the back of my throat. I felt like puking, but I held it down.

And then, all hell broke loose.

I thought we were having a fucking earthquake! Everything flew up in the air as something collided on the street with a thundering force. The windows in Rosa's Cafe smashed to smithereens. Anything that wasn't bolted down was broken, thrown asunder, destroyed.

The power went off. All I could hear were a million car alarms, and the dripping of spilled coffee.

Then a gas main blew. The impact of the explosion knocked me across the room. I just missed caving my skull in on a formica counter. When I could stand up, I dusted myself off and found that, dammit, I was still alive. This was no dream. This was happening right now, in front of me.

I'd injured my right hip, and I walked with a limp. I shoved open the back door and staggered out into the alley.

The whole block had burst into flames. All the cars caused a chain reaction. One blew, and its explosion triggered another, and another. Before I could finish speed-dialing the office, fire trucks and ambulances were screaming their way toward me.

I rounded the corner of the alley and saw it, in the middle of the street, amidst the shattered pavement.

A fucking two-ton wrecking ball!

My first thought was, "How the fuck did a two-ton wrecking ball land in the middle of fucking Central Boulevard?" And then I remembered thinking about the boy and the belt. How the fuck did that kid, who was drugged and under observation, manage to leave a locked, bolted room, break through a titanium-steel lock, etc. etc. etc.?

One and one made two. My little buddy was back on the scene.

When the fire crews had killed the flames and the medics had hauled off all the dead and wounded, I finally got up close to that wrecking ball. I wanted a real good look at that thing. It was taller than me---easily seven feet around. It gave me a hernia just to look at it.

I couldn't even lift up the chain that was attached to it. One of the links was broken--- pulled out of shape. It didn't look like it had broken. It was yanked apart from the other links---by someone's hands.

Then I noticed the finger impressions in the metal. Not fingerprints, but embedded impressions. You could see where someone had mashed the metal inward. It took unimaginable strength to do such a thing.

Two and two made four. My day had been bad before, but it was sunshine and lollipops compared to right now.

If they could get good prints from the wrecking ball, and if they matched the ones we had on file...

Well, look on the bright side. At least now we're getting somewhere.

I wanted another cup of Rosa's coffee, but that wasn't an option anymore. •

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