“Mr. Coto, there are very few people who are truly familiar with me and everything I do, and that includes how I spend my money. I do not like people to know things about me. I am, how you say, a very private man.”
“Yeah. I know that.”
“Do you? Good. And as my accountant, you also know certain things about me and my money that many others do not, and I wish to keep it that way. As my accountant, you are supposed to respect that, yes?”
“Of course. It’s my job.”
“Exactly. Then tell me, Rodrigo, how exactly is it that I have been issued a subpoena on charges relating to tax fraud, money-laundering, and evasion? Have you spoken to someone?”
“Someone? Well, Mr. Arnofsky, I speak to a lot of people. Friends, family, a couple of IRS agents. I like talking to people, I’m very friendly.”
I can’t really say that there was anything notable about my life before I was fourteen. That’s when I first noticed it. I grew up on the lower west side of Trantin, a nice spot. I was the smallest kid on the block, and even though I had a couple of great friends, I still found myself to be a victim of constant bullying. It happened everywhere I went: school, the mall, my own neighborhood, there was no escape. My parents always told me to run and get an adult, but it made no difference. Either I would get cornered or they would catch up to me. It seemed like there was nothing I could do.
I decided to call it a night. I love sleep, and since the next day was Saturday, I got to sleep in. I do some of my best thinking when I’m asleep, and I had a lot to think about. Something strange was going on. I was certain that the same person that killed Ira Dane also killed Arnofsky. But that would mean that it was the Dingo, who Arnofsky claimed was a friend of his. Why kill his friend? He could have shot me, which wouldn’t have worked anyway, but he purposely shot Arnofsky. Something wasn’t right.
On my way home, I made one last move. There was a high-speed chase going on. I jumped down onto the street from the roof and charged at the car full-speed. All it took was a good drop kick the front of the car to stop it. Easy. I let the police apprehend the guys, I was getting too sleepy to kill again. But they still weren’t happy to see me.
“Awesome, right? Yeah, I know.” And out the window, I leapt, landing right on top of the corpse. TCPD wasn’t too pleased to see me, they never are.
“Jesus Christ, Face, are you out of your fucking mind?!” That’s Detective Gander. Bit of a hothead. Oh, and I forgot to mention: when I put on the mask, my name is Face. The denotation may not mean much, but it’s a damn cool word to say in a deep, threatening voice. My name is Face, and I am the last thing you are ever going to see.
“Shut up, you big baby, nothing’s wrong with me. What the hell is wrong with you? Your blood-pressure must be through the roof with all that yelling.”
“You be quiet! Maybe if you would stop yelling, we’d have some damn quiet!” Rick Gander and I are the same age. I met him in college when I was assigned to him as a tutor. We were great friends when we were out of uniform, but as soon as I put the mask on, he hates me. He had been leading a daring investigation to find out who I was, but he was never going to know. The others on his team weren’t half as good as he was.
“Oh, this was it! This was the last fucking straw!”
“What the hell are you talking about, Ricky?”
“I’m talking about him and his friends!” he said, pointing to the deceased on the floor.
“Him? What about him?”
“These guys were just a small part of a whole ring of extorters and robbers. It’s believed that their plan is to delete the country’s financial records and break everyone’s wallet. And because of that plan, they just got placed on the FBI’s most wanted list. This group in particular was being hunted because they seemed to do all of the grunt work for the larger collective. So when the Feds get here-”
“Get here? The Feds are coming?”
Next up, the guy guarding the stairs. Easy enough: I sweep-kicked one of his legs out from underneath him and bashed his head into the rail hard enough to dent it. Dent the rail, that is. I then threw him down the stairs. Done. Did the same thing for the guy guarding the elevator, except this time I grabbed him by the back of the neck with one hand and used my other hand to pry open the elevator doors. I’m sure you can guess what happened. Lastly, the five guys watching the hostages.
Four of them were standing in a circle around the hostages while the fifth was talking on the phone to the police outside. It wasn’t going well for the Trantin City Police Department. Their negotiations team isn’t what it could be, unfortunately. What would they ever do without me?
I don’t know. Maybe superhero isn’t exactly the right term. I guess with the way I killed that gunman back there, I’d be considered more of an antihero. But who cares about titles? It’s action that matters, and I take nothing less than the supreme action against the bad guys. Breaking bones doesn’t bother me. Killing and death don’t bother me. It’s a job, and I excel at it.
I reached the Trantin Inter-Commerce Institute, a massively tall building. I perched myself on the roof of an adjacent building and waited patiently. I could hear the police on the ground far below me, allowing me to learn everything I needed to know about the situation. Nine gunmen, heavily armed, 14 hostages. Gunmen threatening to kill hostages unless transportation is provided. They only need one hostage to give them what they need, so killing the other 13 wouldn’t be an issue for them. 20 minute deadline. That’s 17 more minutes than I needed.
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“Ira!” I quickly grabbed the wheel as we careened into a row of parked cars. I called 911 and told them what happened, but what was the point? Ira Dane was gone.
It was dark by the time they allowed me to leave the police station. They offered to take me to the hospital for shock treatment, but I declined. I wasn’t shocked, in one way or any other. Just the day before, Ira told me that he doubted he was going to survive this case, win or lose. I really wished he had been wrong, just this once. As I was leaving, Mrs. Dane and Ira’s son walked past me. Mrs. Dane approached me slowly, still red-eyed and raspy.
“Are you okay, Cade?”
“I will be. And you?”
“I don’t know. But you have our number, right?”
“Yeah, and you have mine. If anything, and I mean anything, give me a call.”
“Same goes for you. Bye.”
“Bye-bye.” They walked away without another word. I sat down on the steps in front of the station for a few minutes, just watching people go by. No one was there for me, except my city. A gentle breeze kissed my cheek, a few leaves rustled, a street light started to flicker. Oh, my city…
Arnofsky continued to stare us down. For once, it was Ira who was a little shaken and I who was the cool and collective one. The silence was quickly broken with a roaring laugh from Arnofsky.
“Ha! Ha ha ha! You make me laugh, little man! And you are obviously very brave or very stupid. There are not enough brave, stupid people in my organization to do the dirty work. There is a job offer waiting for you if you are ever interested.” I was about to make another threat, but Ira cut me off.
“That’s very generous, Andrei. I’m sure my colleague will take your offer into advisement. Have a good day.”
“Yes, you as well.” Ira grabbed my arm and rushed me outside to his car. He tried to force me in, but I wasn’t going anywhere with him until I got some answers.
“Get in the car, Cade.”