“Didn’t have them turn the train off already?” the chief asked.
“Oh … it’s you, chef,” Barrister said, pronouncing it with a hard “ch” like in the “chosen one,” and called him that in reference to a barbecue where the chief had burnt all the hot dogs. “Oh, oh, I did,” Barrister answered as his head bounced like he was riding on a bad road and working to hypnotize anyone into believing that. “They just didn’t listen.”
The chief sighed. “I’m sure you did,” he said, but sounded very much to the contrary.
Barrister reeled in his pit bull and exchanged it for a bloodhound as he crossed the subway station platform, scraping his soles over the cement. “Who the hell’s that?” Barrister had two bloodhound masks that he wore. One bloodhound was there to solve the crime. The other suspiciously eyed anyone who stepped in his territory.
It was no secret that Barrister held no high regards for the chief, and his number two hound was not only eyeing Johnny, but his boss as well … as it was usually accustomed to doing, like an instinctive means to survive. “Well, chef, who the hell’s that? This is a crime scene.”
“This is David Joseph’s son, Johnny.”
“Oh … nice, very good.” Barrister’s mouth hung low as he examined Johnny, and then turned to the chief. “Can I talk to you?”
“Excuse us, Johnny,” the chief said.
“Yes, excuse us, Johnny,” Barrister’s echo was sarcastically playful like a filled pin cushion as he feigned a grin. The two stepped over to the side. “What the hell is this? It’s not another of your teachers, is it? You act like I don’t know what side of the chalk I’m supposed to write with.”
The chief sniffed the air in front of Barrister. “Does it matter?” he asked.
“That’s right, it doesn’t bloody matter. It writes from all sides,” he said … “so I can be a …” and glared at Johnny. “… a buffoon too and still do it.”
“He won’t mess it up.” The chief was clear on emphasizing the “He.”
“What the freakin’ are you talking about? Mess up what? He bloody hell ain’t doin’ nothin’,” Barrister said. “What’s with you and your teachers?” Barrister called all of the chief’s outliners teachers … and there’d been quite a few. “I don’t get it. Your holy cause is like a cult,” he said and glanced over his shoulder at Johnny, “and this one … this one’s too many bricks short of a wall.”
“He’s substantial enough,” the chief replied.
“Oh yeah, like a sacrificial virgin?”
“Your problem is you don’t have any faith.”
“In hell what? What in the hell are you selling? Faith? Faith don’t get a conviction,” Barrister said. “And you’re a fanatic. You keep crossin’ this line over and over again, pulling these bugs out of the cracks, and then them disappearing again for another. You keep your religion to yourself, you Jehovah wizocrat, and out of my investigation. You hear?” He flapped his hand at Johnny … “And … and your wannabee monk too.” and marched off as he instinctively sized up Johnny, readying himself in case of any future conflict.
“Detective Barrister!” the chief hollered. “He’ll be doing it!”
“He won’t!” Barrister huffed back.
The chief’s voice was deliberate and unshaken, formidable, and resolute like death that has come to claim a victim. “He … will … or I … will have your badge. You know, detective, I don’t need any more reason.”
Johnny had not heard most of the conversation, but the chief’s voice speaking out to Barrister rushed through the station like another subway train. Johnny hadn’t liked the words, which Barrister had used, like “hell,” “freakin’” and “buffoon,” those had been louder than the rest. The detective sounded too much like a bully and Johnny didn’t like bullies … but at least this one had been put in its place by the chief.
Barrister had stopped, and peered back … but choked on what he wanted to say and said nothing further … he knew the chief’s tendencies, and there were too many names in the chief’s rolodex that could end a career. Under wise restraint, Barrister’s jacket appeared to grow another size larger and fold over him, accentuating his smaller frame like a muzzle as he buried his fists into his pockets. His eyes shuffled from the chief’s impenetrable stare, and like a bully that searches out the weakest in the crowd, rested them upon Johnny. But for some reason … no matter how incoherent he saw Johnny to be … this new teacher, though perhaps the weakest, appeared to be someone to be reckoned with … and Johnny’s however innocuous grin pierced him … right through … into his belly.
(To Be Continued)