Still More Bridge of The Broken

Someone (Yes, I’m looking at you, K) asked that I stop the violence. Here is another piece, this one with more than a little dialogue. There’s some anger, too. But no overt violence.

“He did what?” Baptiste asked with a yawn. The cortex had eaten more than half of Caron’s report last night, with the result he hadn’t got home before midnight. Myrna hadn’t yet come home when he’d gone to bed, something he had yet to talk to her about.

“Made a mess in my store, le con,” Gerard answered, looking Caron up and down with an appreciative eye.

“No,” Baptiste shook his head, “before that.”

“What?” Baptiste wasn’t sure if it was his words or his movement that dragged the man’s attention from Caron’s chest back to his face, but was certainly bone weary of Gerard. “Oh, He fell. I thought he was just trying to blackmail me, you know, trying to get a free drink, but then he broke the bottle too,” the clerk said, again looking sidelong at Caron’s chest.

“Then what?”

“He took off, like I told him to.”

“So, he didn’t steal anything?” Caron asked.

“No, but he was about to when I caught him.”

“Are you serious?” Baptiste grunted.

“What?” the clerk said.

“You want the guy we’ve both known for years arrested because he fell and broke a bottle in your store?”

Gerard’s face closed up like a stubborn fist, “Yes. He broke what he’d planned to steal.”

“Sorry, we aren’t the mind police,” Baptiste said.

“Don’t you go blowing me off, Jean-Hervé. I know your brother, and he s-“

Baptiste had enough, pushed his face into the clerk’s “He says what?”

Gerard blinked, stood up straight, trying to increase the distance between himself and Baptiste without retreating, “He listened to me, thought that arresting Mad Morgan might get him some help.”

“Oh, so now we can heal the Broken?” Baptiste snarled.

“Well, no.”

“That’s right. No, he can’t. Even he can’t, though that clearly isn’t enough to stop him meddling in police business.”

“Look, I didn’t mean anything by it, just wan-“

Baptiste thumped the counter with his fist, “If you’re so bent on saving Morgan, perhaps you should stop serving him and all the other drunks come through here looking to get liquored up!” he said, motioning at the ranks of bottles behind the counter as he turned to leave.

“So you aren’t going to take my report just because I mention your brother?” Gerard asked, his tone clear evidence of his inability to sense ground he shouldn’t tread.
Caron stepped forward into the space Baptiste had vacated.

Baptiste bit down on the desire to shoot his mouth off as Caron replied in his stead, “No sir, I will not take your report because you are not reporting a crime. What you have reported is not a crime, it is a civil dispute, with one party absent. We will now leave. Good day.”

“Who the fu-“

Baptiste whirled on the clerk, pointing a finger at him, “Don’t you fucking say it, G. She’s right, she said it more civilly than you deserve, and we are out of here.”

Baptiste turned and led the way out of the store.

Outside, he slowed to let Caron walk beside him to the squad car, “Well, done Caron. I blew my stack a bit and you covered nicely for me. I appreciate it. More to the point, it’s what partners do for one another.”

Caron hitched a thumb back in the direction of the store, “You aren’t worried he’ll complain?”

“Gerard can complain all he likes. I was civil ‘till he brought up my brother, and I didn’t get out of hand even when I did bark at him. Besides, my brother shouldn’t have been involved at all, and knows it.”

She popped the doors on the squad, “Can I ask who your brother is?”

‘A sanctimonious sack of shit,’ Baptiste thought but did not say. She might be religious, and he wasn’t about to open that can of worms, not while he was training the young woman.

He sat in the passenger seat, looking at her before answering aloud, “He’s a priest in the Church. Some call him The Penitent.”

She blinked, opened her mouth. Closed it. Opened it again, “He’s your brother? I knew you came from old stock, and have a lot of family in the Department, but he’s not the kind of guy I would think was related to- well, anyone.”

Baptiste grunted as a placeholder while he moderated the first comment that came to mind, “He hasn’t been at the family table in years, but yes, he is my older brother.”

She looked away. Her adam’s apple bobbed as she swallowed something hard.

“What?” he asked.

“My brother… He’s not someone the family lays claim to easily either.”

“Oh?” Baptiste asked.

“Yes, he was sent up the well some time ago. Financial crimes.”

“Well, I’m sure you’ve heard some trite shit like this before, but having been there, I can really say you can only choose your friends, not your family.”

She shrugged, started the car and put it in gear.

The rest of the day passed pretty quietly. Baptiste didn’t mind, and Caron’s daily progress report would reflect how well she’d handled him going off on the store owner.