A steady yet restless set of rather small hands shuffle through papers and envelopes on an old handmade wooden desk. Court orders, profiles, summons, warrants, subpoenas. Inspector Fournier looks tired and weary: eyes red, teeth yellow, beard coming in. He stops for a moment and looks out the hazy window of his office; seeing the outline of authority, his eyes shift back to his desk. It HAS to be here. Fumbling slowly with the paper-work, like a drunk, he begins opening all the drawers. The smell of wood-pine and old unopened books fester in his face. Dust shoots upwards. The Inspector collapses off his chair, to his knees. “knock-knock-knock” goes the door. He’s now searching the floor, though he knows it isn’t there. The cold seeping through the floor boards hits his hands. It’s beginning to rain outside. Slowly but surely. “pound-pound-pound” goes the door. Ahh! Just then he finds it. A manila envelope marked “/R” on the fold. He places it under his arm, text side in.
“C… Come in”. Fournier rises from the floor, nervous. He steps out from behind his desk. In walks the Chief. Mustached, overweight but handsome. He tells Fournier he must speak with him, in his office, immediately. “You look hurried and stressed”, the Chief mentions genuinely, “you should get yourself a drink, Inspector”. You’d better get a move on, you. Or he’ll have your head on a spike. “I know, sir. But… I, um… ‘v got a lead on an Opium house. East mid-town, sir”. The Chief looks Fournier up and down, cocks his head a bit, squints trying to read the man. He finally tells him to “get a move on, then”. The Inspector grabs his hat, and holsters his revolver under his coat, the envelope still secure under his arm. He motions to the Chief to go ahead, and he locks his office door behind him. Lights a cigarette, ashing it over and over, as he walks outside into the rain. Fournier’s leaving the Department behind him now.
The sprinkles are beginning to settle. Consistency. Overhead the clouds come in from the West, snatching away the last few scraps of sky. It is still morning. The cold hits his face, smirking as if it knows what’s to come. He breaths deep, smoke rises from his silhouette in the fog. Fournier slips the envelope under his overcoat. Just get this done. Shoes slosh through the puddles in the streets, the awnings drip walls of water. The Inspector keeps close to the brick. He nods with his hat brim low to passers by; his affection fades year by year. Slowly but surely. Soon, very soon, none will remain. He finally spots it: a modest building with a club attached. There are women out front strolling about. Call girls and dancers. Fournier locks eyes with one, but does little else; he just looks and walks by. In through the revolving doors. A clean foyer features a front desk, almost hotel like, a grand stair-case up to some French doors, and a neon entrance to the Club.
The man sitting behind the desk tells Fournier to walk up the stairs and knock twice. “He knows you’re coming”. He nods, chest racing. Two men near the Club entrance seem less than enthused that Fournier’s even set foot in the building. They stare him down as he ascends the steps. Up, up, up. He nervously adjusts his hat, squaring the shoulders, deep breaths. Knock, knock. “Yes?”, comes from behind the doors just as they slowly swing open. The room is large, very large, and dark. Bookshelves climb to the ceiling on either side. Everything’s in order. A large desk rests in front of the pulled shades; a small circular table clings to the wall, an assortment of drugs dirty the surface. Two men, each only half lit, stand tall and broad on both sides of the desk. One holds a piece below his waist; the other’s hands are behind his back. A boney, clean cut face leans back in a red leather chair. He scratches his chin and motions to Fournier to sit in the chair across from him; the only other chair in the room.
“You have it?”, the thin face queries abruptly. The Inspector shifts nervously in the chair. All those years, the investigations, the rivalries, the paperwork, all of it will fade to irrelevance. There’s no turning back now, except in a pine-box. Fournier knows this and he sighs before speaking, disappointed in himself. “It was hard to get, and I almost got caught. But yes, I have it”. He slides the manila envelope across the table, below the empty, lifeless, cold eyes of whom the Department and the Streets call “Ritter”. The gangly face rises, he’s thin but quite tall. Feminine features and mannerisms. Ritter’s hands have dirtied the floods of this city for a long time, it seems as if he’s grown tired of the routine. He moves to the wall, Fournier’s left. Fixing his tie, collar, pocket, buttons, running his fingers through his own hair, he gazes at himself through the mirror. He pulls out a cigar, but doesn’t spark it. “The meeting point is at a small warehouse to the East. My associates will fill you in on precise location. You will get the information, find the box, and report back to me within 48 hours. Understand?”. Fournier nods, without a word, and begins to leave the room. “One more thing”, Ritter strikes a match and pulls it up to his face, cigar tip burning amber, “You may want to take care of security beforehand”.
Hours later the skies grow darker, Inspector Fournier parks his auto behind a herd of hollowed white cylindrical tanks. A train has just rumbled in. Fingers clinched ’round the piece in his pocket; it’s loaded and hot. Dark churning red to the East. Through the abandoned cargo cars Fournier can see him. He’s holding a clip-board and talking with the recently rested conductor. Stepping between two tracks with unused cars on both, the Inspector quickens his pace moving South, away from the train-yard guard. He finally reaches the end of the line to his left. He leans back onto the steel. Cold, hardened, rusty. Right hand, still grasping tightly, clicks back the hammer. A small brown dog jogs silently in front of him. It looks at him for a second without stopping, eyes blackened and hungry, and disappears beyond the second set of tracks. The stopped train’s engines begin to churn again. It’s moving now. Fournier begins his run towards the guards shack. Inside, the man faces the city skyline in the distance. It shifts on the grid. Continuously morphing its shape.
Fournier manages to sneak all the way up to the miniature house. He removes his piece. As the outgoing train reaches its first crossing, it blows his horn. Just then, the Inspector turns the corner and kicks open the shack door. Time slows. The train-yard guard looks surprisingly calm at the sight of a barrel aimed in his direction. With the train horn still sounding loudly, Fournier shoots twice at the guard’s abdomen. He contracts and twists. Falls to his knees. Eyes become totally white. One more round directly to the man’s heart. An electricity slips into Fournier’s shooting hand and he quickly drops the gun. Shaking, but oddly invigorated, he collects his dirtied piece off the ground and retreats through the train-yard. Sweating, stirred, but somehow satisfied.