It was the hissing cat that brought them together; he remembered that. Of all things possible. He might have laughed at the irony, if there had been any laughter left.
They’d hated each other from the moment they met; or rather they’d hated each other’s way of life, as much as they hated their own. What they felt was contempt probably. He recalled the repulsion he experienced when he saw her come in; she’d been filthy, covered in dirt and other things he’d rather not imagine. Her sunken eyes, sallow complexion and ruined teeth denounced her as a junkie. A whore too. He couldn’t understand how his new boss – owner really – could work with such disgusting creatures. But here she was, bringing her due and expecting some form of payment.
He learned that day she wasn’t any whore; she was the worst kind. The one who would betray her sisters to their pimp if it could bring her some more drugs or money. She would do anything for it, even sell her own mother. Who was he kidding though? The reason he was here was because he didn’t even have a mother or siblings to sell anymore. He’d played all his cards, not well, and he’d lost. Corrupt cop… the worst kind.
The second time they met was on the street; he was ‘canvassing’ with his partner. When she spat on his face, he knew she wasn’t acting. She despised him, not for being a cop, but for being a dirty one. For the purpose of their boss, she became his C.I. and their relationship became complicated. The boss had to remind them a few times, once forcefully, they must collaborate. In fairness she was usually cleaner than that first time. But the sunken eyes, haunted look never really left.
They were successful in their own way: she’d call him from a payphone, mostly the one that stood at the street corner where she usually caught her clients. She’d get money for being a C.I., which allowed her to stay off whoring mostly. Her info and that recovered by the boss made it possible for him to catch some dealers: mostly his boss’s competition. But sometimes, they organised for some of their stash to be grabbed, otherwise it would be suspicious. He was praised for his investigative skills; made Captain. He was disgusted with himself. He hated her every time she called.
And he guessed she hated to have to call him; he knew that every time she did, one of her friends – if whores and junkies had any – ended up in jail. That was why he was surprised that night when she showed up. He’d kept her a secret even from his colleagues but she’d been here. He knew something was off. But he had to get his work done. He knew the girl the moment he saw her; her sister. Couple of years younger. He spared a moment to wonder what sort of life condemned two sisters to darkness but that was all he had the time for before she was shot. That’s when the cat appeared. It clung to the girl’s clothes hissing when he tried to approach it.
His men wanted to kill the animal. Not he. The girl might have been innocent however unlikely that was. She stood by him. He didn’t ask. She didn’t say. But the cat’s attitude, willing to protect its mistress, however late it was… they faced each other. He could see the same loathing he felt in her eyes. She’d come to see her sister out; she’d failed. She might even have been responsible for the girl to be there.
“I won’t do it anymore.” She’d whispered. He’d felt the same.
For a time they planned, continuing as things were; mostly. He helped her quit shooting up. The first weeks were tough. But still she managed; and she managed to act as if she were still smoking, sniffing… nobody knew. He resumed his job, except he left some clues to his men as to how to get to his ‘boss’. He was never the one finding the information. In fact, it came from one of his men’s C.Is whom she gave the tips to – always carefully. At least they thought so. Until they found her body and the cat’s; in the small kitchen of the apartment she’d rented.
Sitting here at the end of the trail, the end of the journey, head hanging he wonders. Could they have made different choices? Could they have led a different life? He left enough clues in his office for his men to understand what he was, what he did. And what steps he took to destroy the man who’d owned him. He knows the risk of another plant in the police. There are many. Many corrupt cops like him. He looks down at the gun. Six bullets… He could try to kill the boss; but he knows he won’t. Justice will come for him, eventually. But he will go on his own terms. When he hears the tire screeching he doesn’t look up. The gun is loaded. But he won’t fire. That’s the whole point. He stands up and watches death in the eye.
In response to Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s writing prompt #195