Warning: This work has been rated 18+.
Winslow furiously patted through his pockets, hoping that Norton didn’t have the keys. Even though it was all in the line of duty, Winslow didn’t care for getting covered in blood during a brawl outside of the Saenger.
Maybe he wouldn’t get covered in blood.
Maybe he wouldn’t get maimed.
Maybe the drunks coming out of the gutters and the last opera show wouldn’t have spare bottles lying around to crack over his head…
Winslow’s worrying thoughts were quickly interrupted by a rapping on the window and the image of Norton jingling the keys. He watched as the young detective tried to pull on the door, never quite realizing that the door wasn’t locked, Winslow just had his hand on the latch. After a few more seconds of peaceful bliss in the car, he rolled down the window and met with the young man’s smug face.
In that slick Southern drawl, Norton said, “Winslow, I can’t help but notice that you forgot a key part of the operation.”
Without given Norton a direct answer, he picked up his thermos and lunch bag to slide across the bench seat. He slid all the way to the door and took a drink of the already chilled coffee. The longer Billy left the door open, the more Winslow realized that he needed to buy a new coat if this damn weather was going to continue.
“I’m glad you’re such a good sportsman, Billy. Never boasting at all about your accomplishments over other people.”
Winslow tried to smile as he said it, but the chilled, sour coffee only left a grimace on his face. He didn’t realize how much the facial expression took away from the not so sly delivery until Norton seemed genuinely fearful of Winslow’s accusation.
It was times like this when he almost missed being shot at on the front lines.
The weather conditions were only slightly better. But the coffee was somehow much, much worse. All of the time in France had changed Winslow’s standards for what was acceptable dining and drinking wise.
With a continuing frown, Winslow laughingly asked, “Are you going to start the car or are you just going to trot on down to the blood bath?”
Winslow’s comments obviously weren’t helping the situation when Norton took out his flask, took a sip, and then rolled out of the parking lot on Dauphin Street. The total of three city blocks passed quicker than he had expected as the pair went past a multitude of buildings in need of cleaning. Whatever decorations could not be found in the gutter were certain to be found in the middle of the street. He could hear the soft squeak of noisemakers as Billy hit a series of potholes.
“Norton, I know the roadway conditions were rather treacherous today, but was that entirely necessary?”
Instead of responding, copying Winslow’s rude mannerisms from earlier, Norton maintained the silence. When they came to the next stop light, the younger detective reached into his breast pocket, pulled out the staple flask for every Mobile detective, and pulled off the lid with his teeth. One sip went down his gullet before the flask was passed to Winslow who decided - against his better judgment - that perhaps a little bit of liquid courage would make him get out of the damn car.
While taking the flask back, Norton laughed and said, “Winslow, are you going to get out of the car and into the bar brawl?” He paused to pass the whiskey back to Winslow. “Or are you going to stay in here and get drunker than the skunks out there?”
Winslow looked directly into Norton’s eyes as he reluctantly released the lock and buttoned the collar of his trench coat. He pulled his night stick from the side door compartment, double checking holster as he marched towards the crowd, and wondered if the brisk walk over from the station would have been a better choice. If this fight was anything like the other holiday disagreements they had broken up recently, there would be no reason to take anyone to jail.
The ones that had been shot or trampled would be taken away by the coroner’s office. And the ones that were guilty would have already fled the scene in their Cadillacs and assorted roadsters. There would be little to no point in chasing down any mobsters or hoodlums when they’d be bailed out before their names ever hit the books.
Detective Smith took the journey through the messy crowd in a quick stride, blowing his whistle sharply into the ear of a man in a Santa Claus suit who was trying to eat the ear off of someone dressed as an elf.
“This isn’t Santa’s workshop, bozos. If you want to have this fight, have to behind the reindeer stables,” Winslow remarked as he pulled the two men apart. “Now get the hell off my street unless you want to be thrown in County until Christmas comes around again.
The dusty pair of holiday representatives picked themselves off the street, cussing and swearing at Winslow. He watched as they walked down the street to one of the disheveled bars and together tried to order a drink at half past 9 in the morning. If the barkeep in there was truly following the spirit of Mobile, Winslow had no doubt that the pair of North Pole hoodlums would be served.
The detective was brought back to attention by a gust of wind and the quick whoop of the sirens on the police car. Giving a quick hand gesture to the waiting Norton in the car, he turned to walk back down the street. Winslow ignored the drunks that were leaning back against the wall and tried to ignore anyone who was being nonviolent. Even the ones who reached out to grab his ankles, asking, “Do you have some spare change?”
If Winslow had been any other cop in Mobile, he would have walked on by. But Winslow was the soldier who had crossed over the front to help Russian villagers with a contradictory command file sitting on his desk. And Winslow was the veteran who always tossed change when he saw a few loose medals pinned to a beggar’s chest. He could almost hear Norton’s sighs as he bent down to toss change in the cup, telling the man, “God bless you.” before springing up to walk to the ‘bloodbath’.