It had started raining. Gordon flipped on the windshield wipers and squinted through his glasses at a road that was getting harder to see. The headlights were barely doing anything for him. They were still in city limits, but moving into the hills that rested on the northern edge of Gotham. This is where all of the big mansions and fancy houses were, the lords and ladies who looked down at the unwashed masses from up high. They were getting near the turn, a sharp right down a narrow street that would lead to a gate. Beyond that gate, the house of the infamous Carmine Falcone. Gordon was driving and his partner, Harvey Bullock, a loose cannon if there ever was one, were planning on knocking on the front door.
“What exactly is the beef between you two?” Gordon asked.
Bullock leaned back in his seat a bit and lit himself up a cigarette. “It happened about fifteen years ago, when I was walking the beat.” Bullock rolled down his window a little so he could flick out the ashes. Some of the rain slipped and dampened his round, hoggish face a bit, but he didn’t mind. “Carmine Falcone is a ruthless, cold blooded killer. But he always managed to keep himself in check. He was practical. You don’t become the head of a major crime syndicate without some stability in your wiring, you know?”
“You have to see the forest for trees,” Bullock continued. “Or, whatever the saying is. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that Carmine’s younger brother was not practical or stable. In any way. So I’m on the beat on this, really hot summer’s night. I mean it was sweltering. I was a rookie, filled with dreams of serving the public and protecting the innocent and all of that crap. Well, Carmine’s brother, decided he wanted to shoot up a street where this popular night club was. He was pissed off at something…who knows. The guy was a unhinged, a real mess in the head, you know? I guess, he was trying to shoot someone specific, but was really drunk. When I got there, it just looked like he was shooting at random people. So I pulled my service revolver and shot him down.”
“You killed Carmine Falcone’s brother?”
Bullock blew some smoke out of the crack in the window and shook his head. “No,” he answered. “I didn’t kill him. Bullet went through the kid’s spine and paralyzed from the neck down. Chief O’Hara was my captain back then. He swore to make my life a living hell. Now look at me, I’m a fat, washed up alcoholic with a bad temper. You want to know what Gotham City does to idealists, Gordon? Take a long look at me and see for yourself. Hey, are you going to get one of those televisions they got coming out? Supposed to be the hot item for the next decade, they say.”
“The kids want one,” Gordon said. “I don’t know if we can afford one. It’ll probably rot their brains, anyway.”
“Yeah. We live in an age miracles, Gordon. This city sure as hell could really use one.”
The gate of Falcone’s property appeared in the headlights in front of them. There was a guard armed with a shotgun, standing in a three hundred dollar suit in the rain with a cigarette dangling from his lips. Gordon and Bullock flashed him their badges as they pulled up. The guard simply nodded and opened the gates for them. Gordon took in a deep breath and continued up the driveway to Carmine Falcone’s house.
The two detectives were greeted in the foyer by a man called Roman. He had coal black hair, pronounced cheekbones and pock marked skin. He was well dressed and moved and talked with an effortless style. There was something, almost aristocratic about him. Bullock could smell that this guy came from money. When he led them into the library, Roman went over to a sidebar and turned towards them.
“Drinks?” he offered.
“No thank you,” Gordon replied. “We’re on official business.”
“Bourbon on the rocks for me,” Bullock said. When Gordon flashed him a dirty look, Bullock shrugged back at him. “Just one to ease the nerves a bit.”
“Bourbon on the rocks,” Roman echoed as he fixed Bullock’s drink. After he poured it, he walked it over and handed it to him. “For the nerves,” he said with a strange smirk and tone.
Neither Gordon or Bullock liked the man’s tone. The three of them were standing next to a grand fireplace, that was roaring and warm. Bullock sipped his bourbon while his eyes were locked with Roman’s. Gordon was looking around the library, pushing up his glasses and leaning towards the shelves to see what kind of books would be in a crime lord’s library.
“See anything of interest, Detective Gordon?” a voice asked.
The three men by the fire turned and saw Carmine Falcone walk into the room while tying his robe. “I’ll be happy to lend you one. You strike me as a voracious reader. In that, we may have something in common.”
“Truth be told,” Gordon said, “I wish I had the time. But, work and life always have a tendency of getting in the way.”
“Don’t I know it,” Falcone said with a nod and a sigh. He strolled into the library and motioned to Roman with his hand. Roman nodded and quickly moved back to the sidebar. Falcone sat down on a leather chair near the fire and offered Bullock and Gordon a seat on a sofa by him. As the two of them sat down, Falcone stared intently at Bullock. “Harvey Bullock,” he said with a twisted grin. “It has been a long time since I’ve set eyes on you. I see you made it to detective. Good for you, Harvey. Good for you.”
“Yeah, it’s been a few years,” Bullock replied.
Roman brought Falcone a scotch. After he handed it to him, he stood behind Falcone’s chair and lit himself up a cigarette. Feeling those nerves, Bullock figured now was as good as a time as any to finish his drink. He gulped the rest of his bourbon down and set the empty glass down on a coffee table. Falcone was still staring at him, but Bullock couldn’t read that stare. There wasn’t anger or malice in it. Falcone was simply studying him. After a few seconds of silence, Falcone turned his eyes over to Jim Gordon.
“Can I ask you a question, Detective Gordon?” Falcone asked.
“Did, Detective Bullock tell you about our shared history?”
Gordon nodded. “He did.”
“Good,” Falcone said before taking a sip of his scotch. “Then you understand why there is a certain, tension in the air. For five years I took care of my brother. I had nurses who fed him. Bathed him. Cleaned him after he would soil himself. Then, one night, someone put a pillow over his face and suffocated him. Some would call it a mercy killing, some would call it murder. What would you call it, Detective Gordon?”
“I’d call it homicide,” Gordon replied flatly.
Falcone nodded and stared down at his drink, his eyes and thoughts drifting off for a moment. “So would I,” he said softly. “So would I.” Falcone’s eyes then lifted and looked back at Detective Bullock. “I have to say, Harvey. I’m glad that circumstances have brought us face to face again after so many years. I always wanted to tell you this, but I never had the opportunity. You see, Harvey, I forgave you a long time ago. I realized, about a year after you had shot him, that he would have screwed everything up. My brother was psychotic. Him getting himself hurt or killed, was inevitable. You were just the unlucky one who had to pull the trigger when that shoe dropped. Whatever vendetta Chief O’Hara has against you, it’s not on my behalf. I just wanted to say that.”
Bullock said nothing in return. He simply nodded and let another quiet moment pass through the room. Deciding now would be the time to bring up business, Gordon shifted in his seat and cleared his throat. “The reason we are here, Mr. Falcone,” he said, “is because of the attack on one of your warehouses the other night.”
“Yeah, I heard about that,” Falcone said. He finished his drink and help up the empty glass. Roman took it over to the sidebar and fixed him another. When Roman returned and handed Falcone another scotch, Falcone started talking again. “Three of my associates were killed, is that right?”
“Yes,” Gordon answered. “What were they doing there?”
“There was some vandalism going on in the area the last few weeks,” Falcone answered. “I asked them to hang around the warehouse and make sure that no one broke the windows with rocks and what not. I think they were planning on setting up a card game over there.”
“We found an empty barrel with traces of some kind of experimental nerve toxin inside,” Gordon said flatly. “Any idea what something like that could be doing in your warehouse?”
“I have no idea, Detective. Experimental nerve toxin isn’t exactly a booming business, not even in Gotham. My business is in the casual pleasure trade. Nerve toxin doesn’t strike me as being very pleasurable. It’s possible that one of my guys might have been running something without my permission. What, in God’s name, it could have been, I have no idea. Nerve toxin, you say?”
“Yeah, experimental nerve toxin.”
Falcone glanced up at Roman who simply shrugged back at him. Falcone took another sip of his scotch and let out an exasperated sigh. “God,” he said. “Detective, if I was keeping something as valuable and dangerous as experimental nerve toxin in my warehouse, I sure as rain would have had more than three guys guarding it. The last thing I would want is for that stuff to fall into some lunatic’s hands. That is a scary thought, Detective. I don’t mind saying out loud that something like that terrifies me. You have to find this stuff and believe me, I will help in anyway that I can.”
“That’s an interesting point you bring up, Mr. Falcone,” Gordon said. “Why would there be only three men guarding it? Let’s assume this was an enterprise independent of yourself, being conducted in one of your warehouses without your knowledge.”
“By all means, Detective Gordon, assume away.”
“Would they be clear headed enough, to bring more than three men to look after it?” Gordon asked.
Falcone leaned forward in his chair, his face grew dark as his brow furrowed. There was something almost Satanic about the expression that slowly twisted his face. “You think more were involved in this scheme?”
“Is any of your associates, missing?”
Leaning back in his leather chair, Falcone let another sigh and rubbed his temples with his index finger and thumb. “I don’t know, Detective Gordon. But, I promise you this, I’m going to find out. Detectives, it’s late and I’m tired. Is there anything else?”
“No,” Bullock answered. “Thank you for your time.”
Bullock and Gordon stood up to leave.
“You’re good cops,” Falcone said. “I respect honest cops. I don’t take the work of honest police personally. It’s part of business. Dishonest cops have their uses, but truth be told, they always turned my stomach. Keep on the straight and narrow boys, it’s the only way out of Gotham alive.”
“We also came to ask you something,” Gordon said. “To ask you a personal favor. No street retaliation. We will find the guys who did this and arrest them. We will bring them to justice. I don’t want a mob war tearing up this city.”
“Don’t worry, Detective Gordon, I have complete faith in you and your abilities. No wars. No blood on the streets.”
Gordon nodded and left with Bullock behind him. They got into their sedan, turned on the headlights and drove back through the gate towards the city proper. Gordon drove while Bullock ran over the entire conversation in his head. After a few minutes of quiet of driving, with the rain pattering against the windshield, Bullock looked over at Gordon and asked a question. “What if Falcone didn’t know that nerve toxin was in his warehouse?”
“You think he was telling the truth?” Gordon asked back.
“He wasn’t lying, but he wasn’t telling the truth either,” Bullock reasoned. “He knew something was in that warehouse, but maybe he thought it was something else. Or didn’t even know what it was. You got gallons upon gallons of experimental death that you have to get rid of quick, right?”
“Yeah,” Gordon said, catching on. “Bury it in the woods or something? Only, there is a lot of it and you can probably only dispose of it a little at a time. They have to sweep this under the rug.”
Bullock clapped and nodded. “Right. O’Hara needs somewhere off the books to keep this crap. Where better then a mod boss’ warehouse? Not only that, but the man who runs the city and no one, would ever, in a million years, cross. Now the unthinkable has happened. Someone crossed Falcone.”
They passed into the streets of the city, broken down buildings and yellow street lights passed by outside of the sedan’s windows. They were driving through the industrial park, on their way to Central. There was one question that Gordon couldn’t shake. “Why us?” he asked. “Why put us on this assignment?”
“Who else could close this case?”
Gordon chuckled and nodded. He eased back in his seat a bit and loosened his grip on the steering wheel a bit. “Not only that, but when this whole thing blows up, it’s going be us caught in the blast. This is going to be…”
Before Gordon could finish his sentence, a kid darted into the street waving his arms frantically. Gordon slammed on the brakes and yanked at the wheel. The sedan skidded and swerved. Bullock reached out with one arm and gripped the dashboard. The sedan missed the kid and skidded to a stop in the oncoming lane. Both Gordon and Bullock jumped out of the car and rushed over to the kid.
“What is wrong with you?” Gordon shouted. “You can’t just jump into the street like that!”
“Mister! Mister!” the kid shouted back frantically. “There’s a woman in the alley! She’s dead.”
“Get on the sidewalk and sit down,” Gordon said the kid. “You stay there and don’t move, okay?”
The kid nodded and did as he was told. Gordon and Bullock pulled their revolvers and started walking towards the alley that the kid pointed them to. It was short and narrow, with a corner ahead. A single light shone over the backdoor of some bar at the end of the alley. The rain pattered against its tin cover as Gordon and Bullock slowly made their way towards. As they neared the corner, they peered around and saw a pile of garbage bags. Displayed among them, was the body of a woman, cut open and butchered.