***Part 2 is happening at the same time as part 1 but in another part of town. And assume it's Saturday because the baseball game they're watching happened in RL then***
Adum Brate walked into the towns single bar and grill, Statutes, in relatively high spirits. He was as off duty as it got for him and out of uniform and enjoying an evening out for a change. The last several days had been entirely too interesting with the opening of the condom shop, Mrs Norris's protesting that opening and, to add to his amusement, Zilpha Ainsworth's innocent act of donating pastries to the shop and the protesters ... sugar cookies cut in the shapes of sexual coupling. Mrs Norris had then come to his office to complain, but all he could do was tell her that Miss Z had broken no law. Of course, he had to do this while avoiding a spate of laughter. He loved Megan ... more than he'd loved anyone ... but this shop was a roller coaster of amusement and pain in his ass. He knew the name of Chief Condom would pass in time, but until then he had to laugh along. Now he was getting away ... time in what passed as a 'man cave' for him. Of course, women frequented Statutes, but Megan had little to no interest in sports. He settled down, ordered a beer and a bowl of lamb stew, and half watched the sports on the big screen television.
Tom O'Leary worked an extra two hours on the assembly line. He was dragging out his work day, avoiding leaving to avoid going home. He didn't get to go home to Heather tonight. He got to go home to Heather next door with Ken home and desperately trying not to listen to whatever might be in store for her on the other side of the wall to room 8. Tom was ingesting the stress of it, literally. He had to run out on his lunch break for a bottle of Pepto Bismol and he had almost gone through it by the day's end. He stood in front of his open locker, stomach churning again, in a bit of a daze. Most days Tom just wore his coveralls to and from the factory to save time and walk light but today he had brought a backpack with a change of clothes to give him the option not to go home and change. He pulled on a pair of worn faded blue jeans and a black hoodie and then sat down to tie a pair of old white sneakers. He left his coveralls in his locker. This might be the pattern for a few days now.
The fresh cool air felt soothing as he walked outside. Tom passed the pizza place but his stomach gave a lurch. Nope. There was some kind of organic sprouts place. He peered inside for a moment and a bald black woman smiled at him like he was an old friend and did strange motions with her hands in the air. In his current state of mind he just found it overwhelming and gave a polite nod before continuing to walk. He didn't feel like making cheerful conversation right now. He just wanted somewhere he could blend into and hide out. Tom breezed past the fire hall, city hall and the police station. He ignored the Sigh coffee shop. He loved coffee but suspected in his state and at this point in the day it might not love him so much. He passed the building with a sign on it that said "Aqoustic Studio" and gave it a curious glace. There was a truck in front with the same logo and he noticed the musical notes in the mix and figured it was a record label. Still marveling at such a small place having a record label he ended up in front of a small building past the studio with purple tinted windows. The sign said Statutes Bar and Grill and he could hear what sounded like a game on TV from inside. He exhaled and felt his stress come down a few notches. This was what he needed right now, a little hole in the wall place and a game on TV.
Tom walked in and surveyed the menu and his eyes stopped at lamb stew because his stomach was saying yes. His Mom made lamb stew, an old Irish recipe from his Gran. It probably wouldn't be as good as back home but it was comfort food nonetheless and he needed some comfort. There were a few other patrons in the place but no one payed him much attention as he ordered a beer and a stew. There was a tall man with reddish hair at the bar and Tom nodded casually to him as he took a seat one down from him. At a table in the corner by the big screen TV was a a red faced man with a receding black hairline in a simple black suit eating fish and chips. Another table in the opposite corner hosted an elderly couple, a man and a woman, casually chatting and watching the game. It was the Kansas City Royals and the Chicago White Sox. Tom didn't feel a particular affiliation for either team but it was a good game.
Adum got his beer from the bartender Peter O'Brian who was huge and cheerful, as long as he didn't have to throw you out He wasn't a native of Alexandra. He'd retired ten years ago from the Chicago Police Department to Alexandra, a place he had visited on several vacations during his career. Immediately he'd promoted the bar as a cop and fire bar, and that was true, only being a few doors down from the Fire Department and across the street from the Police Department. But that wasn't on the door. Right now he was glaring at the game on the screen, as if watching live news footage of the Apocalypse.
"What is it, Petie boy?" he asked, curious. One of these teams wasn't Peter's, that was obcious.
"Cheating dirty Sox." Pete growled. "Now you come back here in October, Adum and maybe we will see something. The Cubs ,.... this is gonna be their year ... I hope." now when he talked about the Cubs a whole nuther look came over his features. "It'll be glorious. A hundred and eighteen years since they last won the world series." he nods and shakes himself out of his reverie. He spots the man who walks in from the street. "What can I getya?" he asks, his mood much improved for talking about the Cubs.
Tom liked this bartender the man called Petie immediately. How could you not feel warmth for a man who just loved his team after all. His face cracked the first real smile that it had donned all day "Bowl 'o the lamb stew and a pint of whatever you recommend to go with it if you please. Now I know where to come back to for the world series game eh?" He extended his smile towards the man Petie had called Adum.
Pete beamed and nodded. "Lamb Stew, Molly!" he roared in the general direction of the kitchen. Turning he pulled a pint glass off the shelves and filled it with one of the two beers he actually had on tap. Both Irish labels, naturally. He set it down and commented. "Don't get into any drinking games with my friend here." he nods at Adum. "Waste of time and money. Nurses his beers like they have cancer and he's trying to make em live forever."
Adum chuckles. "Fuck you Pete." he replies and takes a micro sip of his beer just to be an ass. "I don't drink much, but who can resist your charming personality and the quiet meditative atmosphere of this place?" he chuckles and takes another sip of his beer.
Tom finds himself laughing with unexpected good company. He hadn't been seeking people, but these guys seemed to be the right people. He glanced at Adum and grinned at Pete "Aye, noted." He gratefully accepts the pint and feels like he's in one of his favourite old watering holes back east. "I like this place." He says thoughtfully.
Pete leaned back and glared at the screen again. From the kitchen came a pretty, stacked redhead carrying two bowls. She moves to the bar and sets one down, then looks confused. "I forgot which one was which." she admits, looking at Peter with a horrified expression
Tearing his eyes from the screen, Pete looks at her and blinks. "Aye . um he gets the Lamb stew and he .." he points to Adum. "Gets the lamb."
Molly's face brightens. "Oh right thanks Uncle Petie." she reverses the bowls and sets them down. "Enjoy." she tells them before going back into the kitchen.
Watching her go, Pete shakes his head. "Dumber than a bag of rocks." he announces. "Normally I wouldn't insult a lady but .... Molly ... she got all the looks and completely forgot to go to the brains department. She probably got lost." he predicts.
Adum watches this with an amused expression. "Thanks Molly." he murmurs while she heads back to the kitchen. When Pete speaks he half smiles. "But she's easy on the eyes and isn't clumsy." he makes some excuses. "But yea .... I think she switched up ... didn't you order the lamb?" he looks at the newcomer again.
Tom was distracted by the appearance of Molly and couldn't help but smile at her and thank her as well, not even noticing the food she put in front of him. He chuckled looking down "It's gotta be the lamb stew for me tonight, specially delivered from a redhead." He chuckles and his cheeks flush a bit, thinking of Heather."Bit of a stress gut today and I think the fish and chips would set it off again. Plus it's bit of a taste 'o home thing." When he mentions home, his Newfoundland accent seems to be even slightly more pronounced.
Pete arches a brow. "Yeaaa the redheads will get to a mans heart." he agrees. "But that is my niece, so warm ya chestnuts someplace else." he advises. He moves behind the bar and brings back a basket of pretzels. "Sourdough, too. That should calm your stomach." the pretzel sticks are thicker than store bought and betray their homemade nature with a complete lack of uniformity. Then he goes back to his game.
Adum takes a bite of the stew, blowing on it first. "Who doesn't like redheads?" he wonders, his own reddish brown hair shining a bit in the gloom of the bar. "Whats the stress, man? And homesick besides? We're not Newfoundland, but we'll try and keep ya feeling like ya belong."
Tom looks sideways at Pete, slightly unimpressed by the chestnuts off my niece warning but also way too polite to show it. He takes a pretzel and turns it over in his hand muttering "Yeah....thanks...Pete. And don't worry. I was only admirin. Got someone special already." His tone is a bit flat but not outright upset. He turns to Adum "No not homesick, just stuff." He takes a bite of the pretzel and chews slowly.
The man in the suit at the table by the TV pulls out his phone and reads a text and then jumps to his feet. He abandons a pint that's still half full and a partially finished basket of fish and chips, walking towards the bar. He steps in front of Pete impatiently, to the right of Adum's seat "I'd like to pay my bill." His tone is very direct and he drums the fingers of his left hand on the bar. He has a ring on his middle finger that looks almost like a class ring with a dark rectangular stone. The stone has a symbol engraved on it that looks like some sort of tooth, maybe even a fang.
Pete is about to reply to this homesick young man when the customer in the corner barges up to pay his bill. "Twenty." is all he says to the man, who looks like the place might be on fire, he is so eager to leave it.
Adum is jostled slightly by the man, so he glances to the right at him. He looks him over looking very casual, noting the ring. He then turns back to the morose man. "Is she part of the 'stuff'?" he wonders. "I'm not being nosy ... well OK, I AM being nosy, but I think we've all been there with our women problems." his mind flashed to his ex Allison and then away. Even if she was dead, she still haunted him from time to time.
Tom notices the man who wants to pay as well and then looks back ruefully at Adum "It's al'right. She is the stuff. As social networking would ave us say "It's complicated"." He laughs awkwardly and then adds "Good job on picking out my accent. I'm Tom by the way."
The man in the suit pulls out his wallet and opens it, revealing a large wad of cash. From the colour of the bills you can see it's not just 20s and 50s but hundreds He's probably carrying about a grand on his person as spending money. He drops a 20, crisp and practically fresh from the mint and then exits without a word. Through the window he can be seen getting into a shiny black Audi TT that's parked in front of the bar and driving off.
Pete takes the money and watches the man leave, seeing the car out of the doorway. Holding the bill in both hands he snaps it crisply. "Adum ..." he murmurs, softly as he hears the car peel off.
Adum didn't see the man pay or his car for paying attention to Tom. "Ahhh ... yes the complicated ones. I have one of those Leaves her mark all over the house and brings home cats and kittens like we're a shelter." granted they only had three cats at this point ... Megan was averaging a stray every two or so months, but Adum was almost ready to put his foot down ... or meet her half way with a cat food troth in the backyard, being well aware of hos impossible it was to say no to his woman. "I'm Adum ... Adum Brate." as he says his name, so does Pete and he looks at him, snapping and staring at the bill. "I miss something from Mr Fancy Pants?" he asks, still only about half business. Unless the place had been robbed, he wasn't going to leave it to get his officers.
Tom had chuckled about Adum's woman and their cat house. God, if it was only something like that. He takes a bite of his stew now and watches the conversation Pete is engaging Adum in about the customer who just left with some curiosity.
Peter shrugs. "Not really." he snaps the bill again. "Crisp bills taken from a wallet FULL of bills? A two second peek in his wallet and he had a LOT of cash. I'd say a thousand." he waves the bill at the door. "And the car is premo. I know you had to have seen it on your way in. Call it a hunch. I didn't stop getting those just because I retired, Chief."
Adum looks at the bill and hears the rest. "I saw the car, yes. And thats a hell of a wad he's carrying around." he glances at the door. "Good thing my city is filled with good law abiding folks ... for the most part." he bites his lip. "I'll talk to my officers about keeping an eye out for that car. Thanks for the extra pair of eyes."
Tom's eyes go a bit wide and then he smiles "Hell you're both cops...and you're the Chief of Police Adum? Good thing I'm one of those law abiding folks then." He says good naturedly "That was a nice car. Too rich for my blood. Only ever driven an Audi in Grand Theft Auto..." he looks between the two law enforcers and pointedly adds "Like...the video game I mean. My brother in law's a cop back east and my sister's a lawyer, a damn good one too. Is there a lot of crime in Alexandra? People keep on at me about livin in The Olin like it's some sorta hood. It's a little sketch for sure but from what they're saying you'd think I was goin ta get my arse handed to me daily."
Pete chuckles. "I'm retired, but .. this is basically a city bar .. cops, firemen, whoever is in the Hall at any given time." he chuckles at the game name, but defers to Adum.
Adum nods. "That's me." he chuckles. "Well, video games arent illegal here, so you're safe." he arches his brows. "Well ... honestly Alexandra has low crime on the Hill and even in Uptown here. I mean we occasionally get a purse snatching .. which is usually solved quickly." he pauses. "But in the Bottom's ... where the Olin is .... it's like a crime vacuum, if that makes sense. We get at least one murder a year there. But its the cheapest place in town. So you get trysts with the strippers at The Blue Door ... not prostitution, of course ... But yea .... most of our crime happens in the Bottoms." he admits. "So if you're staying in the Olin ... be careful." he advises.
Tom finishes a big bite and shrugs with a smile "Well shite then. Good thing I can take care o myself b'y. I'm a retired semi pro boxer....body can only take so much. I got a decent payout and decided to see the country from east to west. This is the end of west and my payout. The Olin is not meant to be forever. I took a job at the factory for the benefits and their promotion system. I know I won't be assembly line forever, and then when I save and get into the next pay scale, I'll look for an apartment....maybe...." He thinks of Heather and was about to say "Maybe we'll get an apartment." but stopped himself. There was still the issue of Ken before he could count those chickens.
Pete nods to himself. "Sounds like you got it together, kid." he smiles and moves to bus the suits table.
Adum smiles. "Good. I don't want to have to knock on your door or anything." he nods. "Good planning." he agrees. "There plenty of apartments to rent and Alexandra really IS a nice place to live." he knows he sounds like an advertisement. "But so are a lot of the towns around here. If you like big cities, parts of Vancouver might work for you. But if you like small, maybe check out Cedar Point. But you have friends here, if you'd like." he smiles.
Tom watches Pete work for a moment and then looks at Adum pensively " I do like it here. Some of my work mates have mentioned Cedar Point. A few of them worked at the cannery our metal supplies for. I'll have to give er a look see one day..."
Pete moves around to a few of his other customers. Shouting out the occasional over loud order.
Adum nods. "Not a bad idea. And it's on the mainland, if you're sick of islands by then. Of course you gotta talk it over with your woman .. does she work at the metalworks too?"
Tom nods and smiles and then hesitates before shaking his head "No...she doesn't." Tom could never bluff in poker and clears his throat before a blatantly obvious subject change "So have you been police chief long? Don't take this wrong but you look about my age...I'm 36. Maybe this island is just good to folks that way though." He gives a little chuckle but the smile doesn't extend to his eyes.
Adum nods at his reply and is about to ask more when the subject is turned on him. "I'll be 30 on April twentieth." he deadpans. "But it's a stressful job. I've had it for a couple of years now, so I'm surprised I don't look fifty. I think Megan ... my girlfriend.. keeps me young ..." he looks puzzled. "Or is aging me faster .... hard to tell."
Tom gulps his next sip of beer audibly and then says sheepishly "Shite, sorry." He genuinely laughs after and raises his glass "To stayin young but livin wise b'y."
Adum laughs and raises his glass. "Cheers." he clinks and drinks a decent amount now. Then he picks up his spoon again. "So .. what's the story with your girlfriend?"" he returns to the original subject not being distracted now. "She doesn't work at the metalworks so .... do I know her? I'm just assuming she is around here, but I can't really think of too many new women in town." he eats a bit of his stew and swallows suddenly. "Wait .. there are two. One is a little Japanese chick with white hair ... go figger that one out. And another ... oh yea ... she's a redhead. I met her in my girlfriend’s new store. They sell condoms and vibrators and whatnot." he nods and digs for a bit more stew. "That must be her, unless there is another new redhead in town. Heather .. right?"
Tom looks completely caught off guard "Jesus Christ... I can see why they made you chief....yeah it's Heather... but it's complicated. If you know all that, you probably know she came here with another fellow and that's not done. I swear I'm not a home-wrecker... It just happened. And buddy's about as not nice as a bugger can be so she's scared to get out."
Adum drinks a bit more beer. "Detective work kind of comes with the job." he eats a bit more stew while Tom continued. Fork to mouth he shakes his head a little bit. "Nope." he replies casually. "You told me that ALL on your own, Tom." and he puts the stew in his mouth, mildly amused how people can assume and give him what he needs to know with a minimum of work. "But if the guy is a jerk, I guess he can't be too surprised if his woman moves on."
Tom sighs "Yeah I guess I did. So I may as well keep going and spell it out. He's not just a jerk... She's terrified of him....of what he'll do if she tries to leave again. So Mister Chief, how do I help her get out without getting her hurt... or worse?"
Adum finishes his stew while Tom talks. "Well ... unless there is some kind of physical evidence there isn't anything I can do as Chief, I'm afraid. She would have to press charges and ... that doesn't happen as often as it should." he sighs and pushes the empty bowl away. "If he is as dangerous as you say ... her just leaving may not be an option. He could retaliate any number of ways. I guess you can try and get her to run away with you, but again ... you take that retaliation chance again." he sighs deeply and finishes his beer. "I know none of what I just said is real helpful, Tom and I'm sorry. I like you and I wish I could help but ..." he shrugs, helplessly.
Tom rubs at his face, distraught "I figured you might say that." His gut drops again and he grabs the bottle of Pepto from his sweatshirt pocket and downs another 2 capfuls. The stress of what could still happen to Heather clearly making him ill. Tom wipes at his mouth "Thank you though..."
Adum watches him. "Well ... hold on. There MAY be a way to make her SAFE. When I met her she was getting all giggly with Megan AND Kitty, her partner in the business. Now ... if your girl hangs with MY girl ... I mean everyone knows we are a couple. Plus Kitty sometimes dates one of my officers." he looks at Tom. "If he knows she has friends that are dating cops maybe that would keep him from abusing her, for fear she will tell her friends, who would tell their boyfriends who would then come and arrest him?" he thinks it’s a long shot, but worth it, possibly.
Tom looks mildly comforted by the idea "It would probably reduce the damage in the short term...while we figure the rest out...any little bit we can help with. I've never even met this guy, seen him, but not met. Now he just looks like an arsehole to me. He's not exactly the say hello as we pass at the hotel type....it's why I came straight here instead of popping home. We're neighbours at The Olin. I'm in room 9, they're in 8.....it's complicated...." he laughs sardonically.
Adum sighs and nods slowly. "It's all you can do for her, seems like." he pauses. "And you probably want to stay away from him too. But I can imagine ... I know the walls at the Olin are thin." he sighs again, as what he hears through the wall is also no real help.
Tom coughs and then nods "Yeah, they are." He looks around for Petey. When he sees him, he calls out "Could I get a glass of water please?" After he looks back to Adum "I know we just met and I'm shitting all over your night here. Generally speaking, I'm normally quite a bit more fun." He snickers a little at himself.
Petey has been tending his pub and soon arrives with a glass of water, retreating without a word.
Adum sighs and shrugs. "Well I've had worse nights." he demurs. "But how about me and you get together again some other night and discuss happier things, eh?" he smiles. "Maybe over more than American Baseball?"
Tom grins back "Yes to that. And we only have to trudge through the baseball until they give us back our hockey eh? That makes the whole nation a happier place."
Tom eventually does have to go home to sleep and walks with dread to the Olin and his little room nine. He almost tiptoes past room 8 and slowly turns his key in the lock, opening and closing the door gently and silently. He removes his shoes and strips down to a t-shirt and boxers to sleep, not that he imagines he'll get much once there's a sound from the other side of the wall. So far there's nothing and he waits, skipping the TV, sitting on the bed listening. Listening for nothing...hours pass and it's still silent. Maybe they went out. Tom keeps waiting, his eyelids now heavy and his head frequently dipping as he fights sleep. Eventually it allies with the thickness of the silence and overtakes him. Room 8 is as still as a deer waiting for a predator to pass.