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The Uniform

Crete was a cop. That didn’t mean much anymore, but that was what he was. Used to be the uniform meant something. Some looked at the black and silver with respect. Others looked at it with fear. Either way worked for Crete.

What he couldn’t stand was the uniform being a joke. Garbage men got more respect.

Fucking capes.

Crete pushed the damp cotton swab through the smooth bored chambers in the cylinder of his revolver. The sour odor of the powder solvent was welcome. It masked worse smells.

His father had been a cop… and his father before him. “And his father before him…” muttered Crete to himself, stopping his cleaning and cocking his head to the side, considering the phrase. Yeah, he liked that. Had that formal feeling to it. That was what it would say in the paper… or in his biography! Crete smiled bigger. Yeah.

Dumping the used cotton into the waste bin he laid the heavy blue steel on a well worn and oiled cloth, folding the gun between both his hands and rubbed vigorously, bringing the metal to a fine sheen. His hands were big and thick; nails worn hard and skin permanently tanned and chapped by years on the job. No patrol car for Crete, he walked a beat; outside with the people. He frowned at the torn skin and red gashes on his knuckles. Not the pain. The sting was nothing. No, he’d have to explain the marks to the Sergeant. He didn’t look forward to that.

He wondered how the freaks explained it away. All the bruises and cuts and broken bones; how come nobody asked the quiet guy in the stock room why his hands looked like raw hamburger every Monday morning? Crete shrugged. Maybe they just grew new hands or had steel hard skin. No worries for them.

Fucking capes.

“Not all of them are so hard,” said Crete, his eyes stealing toward the far corner of the room by the door.

As he laid the gun back down on the worn wooden table Crete noticed the small piece of white flecked in red sitting in a fresh groove. He reached out and touched it. Hard, sharp… still wet with spit. Crete flicked the piece of broken calcium with contempt. It sailed across the room and landed with a small clatter in the yellowed porcelain sink, rattling into the drain. “Shoots and scores!” he said with a sense of satisfaction. “Yes he does…” he muttered in his awkward monologue, standing up from the table and knocking back the cheap metal chair so it scraped on the peeling linoleum tile.

At the noise the dark corner by the door made a bubbly, slurring sound as if in response. Crete ignored it, turning to look through the open bedroom door so he could see himself in the cracked wall mirror inside. His uniform was sharp, the three bars on his collar gleamed. The creases of his pants so crisp they could cut. He picked up the heavy revolver and replaced the single round fired then slapped the cylinder shut and holstered the weapon with practiced ease. The corner made more wet sounds. This time they almost sounded like words. Crete said nothing. Instead he wiped down the table with the cloth and scooped up the plastic bag from the waste can, removing all the cotton swabs and other tell-tale trash. Turning back toward the door to the empty outer hall, he stepped over the purple legs splayed on the filthy old carpet. The scaled skin gleamed like metal in the little light that came through the dirt encrusted windows. Hell, maybe the legs WERE metal for all Crete knew. “His mouth wasn’t, that’s for sure,” said Crete, addressing the dark corner.

“Pppleeeshhh… hhlllp meh…” came the liquid speech. Crete reached out and brushed the open door away letting light into the dark of the corner. The other one lay there, half sitting against the wall but slumped sideways, the mangled upper torso only half supported by the remaining stumps below.

“Did a number on you, though,” Crete addressed the mask. The eyes behind the black rubber were wide and white with pain, pupils massively dilated. They tracked across Crete, trying to see the man but unable to focus. “You don’t look like you’re growing back any parts any time soon.” Crete shakes his head, as if it makes him sad. Then he points at the emblem on the man’s chest. “What is that?” he asked. “Claws? Antlers? What are you supposed to be?”

The eyes just stared back and a red tinged snot bubble pops from the triangular hole in the mask. “Whatever…” Crete glanced over his shoulder at the dead body. “He got you good… and then I got him.” He turned back to the dying meat that was once like a man. “I did what you couldn’t.” His head tilts as if trying to get the mask’s attention. “How’s that feel, eh cape?”

The mangled hole that had once been a mouth keened. Then it made a try at more words. “pppPpeeeeesss…”

Crete stood up to leave. The mouth burbled again.

“Aaawwffiissseh…”

Crete stopped. He looked down at the mess. “What did you say?”

A wheeze, then superhuman effort for one word. “Aaaaffffiisssar…”and one gloved hand twitched as if reaching.

Crete went infinitely still; his own mouth a hard line on a face that could break stone.

“Officer?” he asked, more to himself. Wet rasps answered.

Crete reached for his radio. “Goddamn right I am,” he said, pulling the hand mike from his shoulder. He shook his head before toggling the call switch. “Officer garbage man…” He glared down at the post-human wreckage at his feet.

“Fucking capes.”

Then he made the call.

Couldn't sleep...

... and I've just had this image in my head for a while. Needed to get it out, and really had no story behind it... had to create one (as bare bones as it is) as I wrote. More of a stream-of-consciousness piece... wanting to set a scene but reallizing there needed to be some kind of narrative. Who Crete was and why he was doing what he did changed about five times as I wrote the thing... and ended up ambiguous at best. Even to me.

kelson.philo's picture

I dunno, you've got a pretty

I dunno, you've got a pretty strong character in Crete. The cop who allows himself to work under the law's restraints and the lack of fame and fortune that comes with any civic duty. Generations of his family line are law enforcement, and darn it, it's about time they had some recognition beyond the gold watch.

It speaks loudly that he doesn't allow the cape to die, as perhaps that would pull attention from his act of stopping the costumed villain. Perhaps a small segment mentioning what that fellow looks like now would help flesh it out a bit? "in this corner, the caped reptillian wonder... and in the other, a pile of sensless goo..." You've got the ordinary having to deal with the extraordinary and that can always be an interesting POV.