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  1. Old Guy


    The Lost My partner, Whizkid, and I were working the day watch out of Nine Mile Station when we spotted the perp. "Gotta Leaker, Whiz." I pointed at the pudgy, bald man standing on the sidewalk in front of Sid's Cat House. He was staring goggle-eyed at the life size poster depicting Sid's most famous stripper, Lola Palooza. "Not from around here, that's certain," said Whiz. He's an odd-looking sort, what with all the purple spots and being shaped sorta like a turnip, but we get all kinds, and he's a good partner, if a little quick on the trigger. The other cops call him Whiz because he ain't very fast. Around the force my handle is Old Guy. I'm not as old as dinosaur poop, no matter what you might hear, but I survived ten years on the Eastern Frontier during the worst of the Mormon invasions and another five years fighting militant Pacifists along the southern border of my home, the great country of Mendocino. It ain't age as much as it's general wear and tear. Yeah, Whizkid and I protect the citizens of Frisco from drifters, grifters, and worse. I carry a .45 caliber pistol and a riot gun. Oh, I also carry a badge. It's my license to kill. Whiz eased off to one side as we approached the perp. You never know what a Leaker might do when confronted by officers of the law. I stopped a few feet from the Leaker. He'd have seen me if he wasn't staring slackjawed at Lola's image. "Identify yourself! State your business!" He jerked as if stung and dropped a flimsy plastic bag. The contents scattered across the sidewalk. We had him for littering, if nothing else. That would win him a year in the rock quarries. "Huh?" he stammered. "Wha . . .? Huh?" "Your name. Name and business." He looked around as if lost -- which he was and not in any familiar way. "My -- uh -- my name is Donster. I -- I seem to -- to . . ." "Yeah, right. That's what they all say, Donster, if that's your real name." "Well, it's -- yeah, that's my name. Most folks call me Donnie." He ran a shaking hand over his bald dome. I hadn't seen anyone that out of shape since my army days, when I was part of a task force that ambushed one of Pacifica's so-called "elite" units and wiped 'em out. "I -- where am I? Last thing I remember was walking out of Walmart and looking for my car. I turned a corner and -- here I was." He looked around at Lola's poster. "And there -- there she was." "A likely story," I said. Actually, I meant exactly that. No sarcasm intended. "What were you doing as you left this Walmart place?" "Um -- thinking about boobs. I think about boobs a lot. All the time, in fact." I produced my notebook. "Any boobs in particular." "No. Just boobs." He touched the poster reverently. "Like hers." "So what kind of job do you have, Donster?" "Um." He fell silent and shuffled his feet, then mumbled something. "Sorry. I didn't get that." "Unemployed. Disabled. But, I spend a lot of time on my computer doing -- ah -- doing volunteer work. Yeah. Volunteer work." "Computers, eh? We've heard that term before. Sounds evil, but here in Frisco we make no value judgments on mere words. We hear a lot of odd ones." I made a few notes for our report. "So you had no job and you were thinking about boobs as you left this -- Walmart place. Is that correct?" "Yeah. Where am I? Is this a movie set?" "Movie," said Whiz. "There's another of those funny words." "Whatever a "movie" is," I told Donster, "this ain't it. You'll have to come along with us." "But -- what's going on? I was just minding my own boobs -- er -- business. You ain't read me my rights or nothing." He smirked as he spoke. I hate a man who smirks. I resisted the temptation to butt-stroke him into next week. "Mendocino laws don't require that we tell you anything. You're thinking of Pacifica. You don't belong here. We call clowns like you Leakers. Like you, all Leakers were lost in thought -- you'd be surprised at how many say they were daydreaming about boobs -- and turned a corner -- into a different reality." "We can shoot you where you stand," added Whiz. He likes to scare the piss out of perps. He also likes using his riot gun. I gave our prisoner a friendly punch in the arm. "Pick up your stuff, Donster. What Whiz said is technically true, but we generally only shoot Leakers on Mondays." Donster scrambled to retrieve his goods. "Why -- why Mondays?" I shrugged. "After a nice weekend, we have to go back to work dealing with renegades up from the south, religious fanatics from the east, and an assortment of real criminals. Shooting a few Leakers is just a way to let off steam." "I like to shoot one or two on Fridays," said Whiz, flashing his one-tooth grin. "Sort of gives the weekend a good start." "Well, we're not going to shoot Donnie, now are we, Whiz? We'll just take him to the station and let the Rehab folks deal with him." "Well. Okay. If you insist. But it is Friday." (tbc)
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