3272 words (13 minute read)

Chapter 1

The sound of ‘Bad Boys’ by Inner Circle blared out of my cellphone, rousing me from provocative dream involving Mila Kunis and a hot spring, this had better be good. I am not sure what it says about my personality to have that song as the ringtone for the NYPD but it should give you some insight about what my boss is like that the number is saved on my phone in the first place. The song had started playing again before I decided it would be more pain in the long run if I didn’t pick it up now.

“Hello?” I asked into the phone while rubbing the sleep from my eyes.

“Morgan, its Frank” A deep baritone answered back on the other side of the phone. Oh my last name is Morgan, did I mention that?

“Come on Frank, it’s” I checked the time on my cell. “Three seventeen in the morning.” I said in outrage. “Whatever he has done, he can stay where he is.”

“That’s not how this works Morgan, you need to pick him up. It’s not good this time.” Detective Frank said. There was more frustration in his voice than normal. The fact that it was now Three-eighteen probably did not help matters.

“You say that almost every time. Fine,” I grumbled into the phone, “give me a half an hour.”

Detective Frank hung up the phone and I hit the side of my bed a few times in frustration, this was the fifth time this month. Somehow I made it out of bed with a fit of groggy rolls and flops. I did, however, forget to go feet first and landed on the floor with a painful thud. A perfect start to another great day in the life of Henry Morgan, cleaner of Antiques and babysitter of a hasbeen god. I got to my feet and headed into the bathroom.

I didn’t  bother with the hot water, I needed to wake up. After shivering for about ten minutes I dried off with a big towel and went over to the mirror to shave. I swiped the fog off the mirror and gave myself a good look. In my opinion my eyes are my best feature, they seem to like to switch between sky blue and clover green and the mixture between them always gets me compliments at the bar. Today, however, dark circles pulled attention away from those same eyes. I hadn’t had a haircut in a while and my dark hair nearly came down to my shoulders. I wouldn’t call myself overly attractive, but good looking enough I would guess, decently build and a little on the tall side at just under six feet tall.

I shaved my face clean of any beard hair that had cropped up over the last day and went back into my room to get dressed. I knew after years of working for Mr. Smith that as soon as he got out he would want to open up the shop. For today I picked out dark gray slacks and a blue button-up. I slipped on my black leather belt and shoe and exited out my room.

My apartment is not particularly spacious, add on the fact that I share it with my buddy Kevin; it’s downright tiny. As I headed to the door Kevin’s bedroom door opened up, relieving that I had woke him up yet again. Kevin did look extra imposing this morning, maybe he was woken up from a good dream as well. He was shorter then me by a few inches and his beard, normally a groomed testament to Lumberjacks, was doing its best bush impression. It actually bounced as Kevin spoke.

“Dude, it’s almost Four AM. What the Hell?” Kevin asked frustrated.

“Sorry Kev, I need to pick up Mr. Smith again.” I said apologetically.

“Henry” Kevin shook his head as he started a new lecture. “Come on man, You didn’t go to college to dust off old junk. I will talk to my boss. Might be able to you into the IT department. Kev put his hand on my shoulder. “I worry that you are throwing your life away.”

“Thanks buddy,” I really meant it. “But I got this, working there is interesting; never dull.” I patted his hand and turned to walk away and looked at the clock. “Just keep an ear out for me, just in case.”

“Haha.” Kevin laughed. “Will do.” Kevin slumped back into his room to get back to sleep, lucky bastard.

I, on the other hand walked down the two flights of stairs and exited out onto an empty street. Its called the city that never sleep, still parts of it will take a nap once and awhile. Still the cabs were out and after only ten minutes of waiting I was heading over to the 6th Precinct. It took me about twenty minutes to get there once we hit traffic and the cab deposited me in front of the NYPD building around four-forty; I was late. Detective Joseph P. Frank waited for me outside the building and by the look of him, he was not happy.

“Thirty minutes?” Frank said as I walked up. He was fiddling with something in his massive hands. It wasn’t until get put a short white tube between his lips did I figure out what was happening.

“Sorry about that.” I said as I glanced away from him just as Frank struck a match.

“What’s done is… Damn it, sorry myself, Henry.” Frank said. I glanced over to see look at him, the cigarette was lit but the matches were back in his pocket.

“When did you start smoking again?” I asked

“Joyce will be pissed, but it’s only once or twice a week. Though the twice a week part, I’ve noticed, to happen when your boss is around.” Frank said has he took a long draw which brought him to his normal towering height. He was a large man, built like a boxer. Which was handy because that was his favorite hobby. As a thank you for helping his family out in the past, once a week he drags yours truly into the ring and beats the ever loving crap out of me. Had it only been three years since then, I  notice there was more gray woven into his hair as he moved an ebony hand through it.

“What did he do this time?” I asked, letting Frank know we sometimes share a common enemy.

“You know those fanatic priest?” Frank asked.

“Yeah?” I answered back slowly, this will be good.

“One of them was standing on a sidewalk of a nearby street preaching about God and started calling people the ‘Spawns of sin and demons.” Frank continued

I nodded along, my stomach sinking a little.

“According to eyewitnesses, that is when Mr. Smith tackled the priest in what was reported a drunken rage and the two went sprawling in the street.” Said Frank as he puffed on his cigarette. “When local law enforcement arrived on the scene Mr Smith had the other guy under him and was choking him out.” Frank paused for a moment to emphasize this next point. “Henry, I talked to the Priest and he wants to press charges.”

I took a deep breath before I spoke “Do me a favor, ask him again in the morning.”

Detective Frank gave me a stern look. “Henry this isn’t funny, a couple hours stewing behind bars is not going to change this man’s mind. Mr. Smith attacked him, he is at fault. They won’t drop the assault charges on a technicality.”

“Humor me, okay.” I said

“Well it’s not like the crazed priest has anyone to pick him up.” Said Frank.

I headed for the door and turned to Frank. “Not coming in?”

“No thank you, I covered the paperwork so you should be ok to grab him. As for me, I am going home.” Frank said, finishing off his cigarette.

“Night Detective Frank.”

“Good luck, Morgan.” Frank nodded and turned toward the parking lot.

Detective Frank’s peace was just beginning but my day was just getting started. Inside there was as rush of sounds and scents that can only come from a New York Police building. Even this early there was a hussle to the area. Officers coming in with today’s catch, leaving with their partners for the start of their shift, or heading out in street clothes to see their families.

I headed up the stairs to the second floor of the Precinct and walked up to the gate keeper.

I did not recognize the older woman with the straw-colored hair and light green eyes hidden behind a set of square glasses. What I did recognize was the look of someone that have seen more of their fair share of horrors.

“Good morning.” I said as cheerfully as one can at four forty-five in the morning.

“State your business.” The lady whose name plate labeled her Patty said

“Yes, I’m Henry Morgan. I am here to pick up Mr. Smith.” I said

Patty took off her glasses and pointed them at me. Her voice taking an irritable tone.

“You are here looking for a Mr. Smith.” Patty started “Son, about half the riff-raff that comes in here calls themselves Smith and we need the sift through them, so you coming in here and say ‘Mr. Smith’ means squat to me.” She flashed a disdainful smile. “Does your Mr. Smith have a first name?” Here we go.

“John.” I said taking a half step back. Patty dropped her glasses on the table. She was losing her patience with me.

“John Smith.” She nodded her head as she spoke. “You do realize what you’re saying right? You come in to one of the busiest precincts, in the busiest city in the world, and ask for the most common name. Please child, help me help you. Does he have a middle name?”

“None.” I said taking another half-step away. I almost couldn’t stop myself from smiling.

“He doesn’t have one?” Patty asked.

“No, he does and it’s None.” I pronounced each syllable of the next sentence as clearly as I could. “I am here to pick up my boss Mr. John None Smith.”

Patty looked to be contemplating which window to throw me out of but she did her job and typed his name in.

“What do you know, you weren’t tugging my chain. This guy’s parents must of hated him.” Patty exclaimed.

“I wouldn’t know. He should be free to leave?” I asked

“Yeah, processing is all done, you just need to claim and and he is free to leave.”

She called over one of the officers to escort me back to the drunk tank. When the officer opened the door leading to the cells a voice started to mingle in with the other sounds of the building. That voice, unmistakable to me, was spending its time singing off key to ‘Charlie Mops’; an Irish drinking song.

“Yep.” I said out loud, thinking back to Detective’s Frank’s party words. “Lucky me.”

The singer was a tall man, looked to be in his late forties or early fifties. He had a fair complexion, wavy salt and pepper hair, and striking amber eyes. If it was not for the tattered three piece suit and the fact that he was behind bars drunk, he would have cut a impressive image. His cell mates did not seem to care what he looked like as they clapped and cheered as Mr. Smith began the chorus.

Oh, he must have been an Admiral, a Sultan, or a King

And to his praises, we shall always sing.

Look what he has done for us,

He fills us up with cheer

The Lord bless Charlie Mops, the man who invented

Beer, Beer, Beer

I wrapped on the bars before the drunken suit could began another verse.

“Mr. Smith, I think it’s time we leave.”

The person singing stopped and gave me a gleeful smile.

“Henry!” Mr. Smith shouted and stumbled toward me. “It’s so good to see you boy, how long has it been?” Mr. Smith slurred out.

“About seven hours sir.” I responded. “You seem to have used our time apart to make new friends.”

“Yes, I did.” Mr. Smith said proudly.

“Well, lets get you home then, you need sleep.” I motioned for the exit.

Nonsense, I need breakfast and then we can open the shop early.” He exclaimed.

I sighed at that. “Sounds about right.”

The officer opened the cell and and held out a hand for Mr. Smith. This did not stop the drunken god from trippinga over the cell door track and into the arms of the officer.

“My hero.” Mr. Smith burped out.

I ducked under Mr. Smith’s shoulder to make sure he did not trip again. Outside the holding I signed the release form and took custody of my boss and headed out the building. Mr. Smith took this time to regale me of the night exploits. After it was all said and done, we did not leave the actual building until about five-thirty.

“Henry.” Mr. Smith asked. “Can we wait here for a few moments?”

“You’re the boss.” I said blankly and leaned against the stone masonry of the building while I waited. Mr. Smith on the other handwent to the corner of the intersection and stood there. This had happened on several ossaions and the best thing to do was to sit tight, at least the sky was pretty tonight.

The deep darkness of the night had faded, replaced by streaks of yellow and orange on a canvas of navy blue. From where we stood, I could see all the way down the street to the harbor. That was also Mr. Smith was looking. Slumbed and propping himself of a lamp post, he stared straight ahead. His gaze never wavering and enternally patient, like waiting to greet an old friend. In was in these moments that I feel I see a little bit of his true character, an old sage waiting for the light to shine out of the darkness.

The first signs were the tips of the buildings changing hue, like a curtain was slowly being drawn back so that the grand show behind could start. Finally the sun had come out and bathed the city in it’s golden light. I looked over to Mr. Smith, he was basking in the rays of early dawn. He was no longer slumped, instead he was standing up straight. He stood with confidence and the scrapes on his hands from brawling in the street were gone. He turned to look at me, his movements had all the tell tale signs of sobriety. He even looked slightly younger, about mid forties now.

“Ah, that’s better.” Mr. Smith said in relief. “Now Henry, I do believe one of us mentioned breakfast.”

“After what you pulled this morning.” I said dryly. “You are buying.”

Mr. Smith nodded. “Fair enough.”

Breakfast, like all meals when Mr. Smith is buying happened at ‘Ann’s Diner. It was nothing special, one of those 24/7 places that will serve you any meal no matter what time of day it was. I never had gotten around to ask if it was modeled after or just never changed its look since the 1950’s. Mr. Smith and I grabbed a booth nearest to the door and slide onto the aging red leather.

“Good morning boys.” Said a cheerful voice.

“Good morning Ann.” Said Mr. Smith

“Good morning.” I said turning to face the owner of the restaurant. Ann was a short woman with gray curly hair and eyes with deep wrinkles around them; the ones you get from smiling all the time. She in one of her bright neon-green nailed hands she held a notebook and a pen in the other. Ann always took care of her customers.

“The usual today?” she asked

“Sounds lovely.” Mr. Smith replied with a smile.

“What happened to your suit John?” Ann asked, there was no formality with Ann.

“Nothing to worry about dear, we are all fine.” Mr. Smith assured her.

I gave Mr. Smith a blank stare and smiled quickly to Ann.

“Oh boy, what did you do this time?” Ann said, giving Mr. Smith

“Nothing, this breakfast is a thank you for picking me up early for work.” Mr. Smith smiled warmly while I deadpanned.

“Okay.” Ann said quickly. “ I’ll be back with drinks.” She headed off to the back.

After a few minutes of awkward silence two steaming cups of coffee were placed in front of us.

“I’ll be back with your meals.” Said Ann and she was off again, taking care of her other patrons.

I mixed two packets of sugar into my coffee and slipped. The heavenly brew seeped into every fiber of my being. It was almost enough to make me forgive Mr. Smith; almost. We continued sitting in silience. Mr. Smith had not touched his coffee, just sat there staring at me.

“What?” I asked a little louder then I wanted.

“Why are you being so quiet?” He asked

“Really, you are really asking me that?” I said, staring god in the eye.

“So I woke you up a little early.”

“It was three in the morning, I didn’t get home until eleven. I was stuck cleaning the shop after you left.” I sipped my coffee was about to continue when a sizzling steak with a side of eggs appeared before me.

“Thank you Ann.” My tone had soften at the sight of the plate. I grabbed a fork and knife to cut into the meal while Mr. Smith popped a strip of crispy bacon into his mouth.

“So why did you do it?” I said halfway through my breakfast. “Attack that guy?”

“You know what it is like.” Mr. Smith said before finishing off his coffee.

“No I really don’t.” I answered

“Well it does not matter anymore.” Mr. Smith said as he popped the last piece of bacon in his mouth. “Come on Henry, might as well open up early since we are up.” He threw some money on the table and stood up.

“Slow down, I am not fished.” I still had part of an uneaten sirloin.

“No problem, we will get it to go, we have work to do.”

“Great.” I rolled my eyes.

“That’s the spirit.” Mr. Smith said. He got a to-go box and ushered me out the door.

Ann’s Diner is only a couple blocks away from the shop. I followed Mr. Smith all the way to the familiar wood and glass door.

“Who knows what amazing things we are going to witness today.”

“Yep, I can feel it. Today is going to be my lucky day.” Hooray for me.

Next Chapter: Chapter 2