I Walk Among
Filled With Shattered Dreams
A story by Zycho32
AUTHORS NOTE: The part that deals with the plot was in no way related to any movie of the same kind of genre, except for a couple ideas, maybe. If anything, some of the words come from those Tracer Bullet stories from the Calvin and Hobbes comics, so it's copyright them. A bit of lyrics is from the song Total Eclipse Of The Heart, by Bonnie Tyler, so it's copyright the song and her. This is MY shot at the private eye story biz that had been started in this particular universe.
Hollywood. City of dreams they say. Full of rising stars and no absolute failures.
But is that really true?
Let me tell you something. Every street I walk out there, every joint I stroll into, every dark alleyway I waltz my way through like I owned it, I've seen many hopes and dreams, that I won't argue with. However, none of those hopes and dreams that I DO see succeed. Eventually, all are shot down by the many facts of life, whether it's getting fired, getting kicked out of your 'home', or even meeting a very sad ending distributed by one or many thugs.
I should know, I've seen it up close.
Name's Jake. Jake Anderson, Private Eye for hire. Want proof, look at my door.
Business has been booming lately. Now I know there are dozens of other businesses just like mine, but even that isn't enough. It's been a gigantic crime wave that has occurred.
And yours truly has gotten himself into the middle of it.
It's a very tough job, but then, I'm a very tough guy. Nobody likes an audience when they work. Enough of those half-witted bums have told me so with blunt instruments that I'm a phrenologists dream come true. And yet.......snooping pays the bills and even the rent.
I live in a small apartment in a place called "Pinky's Motel". In the "Animal" district of Los Angeles. That's right, it's a zone, about one fourth of the city area, and that's where every single animal lives. In that zone. A couple humans, such as myself, also stayed here, because we had no problems with them. Guess you could guess that no animal could get anywhere NEAR a movie and make any kind of contribution. And I'm very sure you can figure out WHY.
Today, I had originally intended to spend the day cruising the streets with a couple of buddies. My buddies are a lot of fun to be around and they travel light. One in a holster, the other in a hip flask. I didn't care about the rain, I didn't even care abut the goddamned thugs.
Now, I've already said that business had been booming. For everyone else anyways. For me, since I've been around the "Animal" district, not much had been happening. Just a bunch of Tommyblocker cases.
Perhaps I need to explain. Tommyblocker cases are given to me by spouses; to watch on either hubbies or housewives, and make sure they don't do anything the other disagrees with. Those kinds of cases are annoying, boring, and they don't pay well at all. Not the kind of case you want to live on, you know?
"Hey kid!" Cranston says as he walks into my office, which was really my apartment.
Cranston "Goat" Gotovsky. Do you really need to ask what species he is? He's pretty old, 62 years to be precise. I used to work under him as an apprentice in the Private Eye business, and now he works for me at half- price. I'm rather surprised because he's still active enough to be a private eye himself.
"Yeah? What the hell do you want? And stop calling me kid!!" I reply. Cranston had caught me hitting on a bottle with some kind of drink. No seriously, that's the name of it. "A Bottle With Some Kind Of Drink".
"There's someone here to see you. Some kind of case." He tells me.
"God damn it, I'm not interested..........." I start to say, as I bang by bottle of booze on the desk and stand up, as SHE walks in.
She is a feline. Reddish fur, bright blue eyes. Average size and shape. She is wearing a dark green jacket over a lighter green dress complete with a normal green hat, for females. Her frame was pretty arousing for any other being. Me? I see too many dames to be affected.
"Alright, what is it you want?"
"Jake? Jake?? You there?"
"Jake got himself clobbered!"
"Oh geez!! Jake? Can you hear me?"
I find myself strolling down a street in this murky, miserable town with my partner. The rain falls upon us very heavily, too much for even our overcoats. I review the facts of this particular case. Not too much, in fact.
The lady is named Alyssa Henderson. She had an Invisible Phantom case. That's a code word for a missing person case. What made this no ordinary missing person case was that the missing person, a guy by the name of Ned Jenkins, is a human.
You should know that things won't be good at all in the animal district if a human is found missing in there. That would be the final straw, and we'd be dealt with.
The last Alyssa saw of Ned, was next door in another apartment complex that I do not know of. Just like that, he was gone the next morning. As if she was anticipating my obvious question as to why she thought that in the morning, she told me she waited a good 12 or so hours and he hadn't returned. She said he didn't really get out too much, and it's doubtful that he would have spent time at a pub. You see, she said he didn't drink. He's your basic nice guy, and he put himself in a bad situation.
This makes things worse here. Before it was talks and rumors that the animals may put their own city council in charge for them, instead of the human officials in the human part of the city. The whole place would get burned down, if that occurred right away. So it was slow. A slow uphill battle against humans who wanted them under their control just to have them under control. Power is odd that way.
"So Kid, what should we do?" Cranston asks. He knows I hate being called kid, to an unhealthy obsession, but he does it anyway, perhaps an age reminder.
"How about the Surviving Dream?" I suggest.
The Surviving Dream is also a bar place. One of about a dozen and a half in the animal district. The difference? This one is top notch. The drinks are quite pleasant, the decor is very nice, something you'd only expect in the human part of town. And the atmosphere.... it can make you forget for just a moment that you're barely struggling with your life, and things are actually going to be all right.
Not to mention I had friends here. They owned the joint.
We step in. The lights are on, as we witness the tones of reds and golds, with some whites dashed here and there. The coloring is quite splendid. We remove our overcoats and fedoras, which are very soaked. As we proceed to the bar area, where we get the drinks, we notice one of our friends behind the bar.
"Hey Danny." I say.
He looks up and smiles. "Hey Jake, hey Cranston." He replies. Cranston nods.
Daniel Richardson is the name. He's a feline as well. Orange fur, emerald green eyes. His eyes hold plenty of youth and passion within them, quite unheard of around here. He, like everyone else, had his hopes and dreams, and he too had seen them shattered. And yet, he didn't accept defeat. No, he simply swept up the remains and kept going. It led to the creation of this bar. Everybody knew him, I guess. Those that I KNOW knew him, all of them admired him. If not with a dash of jealousy.
"Needed a day to forget about the world?" He asks.
"You wish," Cranston replies. "We're on a case."
"Yeah, Invisible Phantom." I add on.
Danny knew our code words just as well as we did. We all knew he was a good commodity for us because he could hear a lot here. You try coming in here and keeping quiet about something sometime.
"Well, it's about time. After all those Tommyblockers, it's good to be in the real thing." Someone says behind us. Cranston and I turn around, as Danny smiles.
Sawyer McDermid. Also a feline, Persian. Copper eyes that you'd have to look very closely at to see any kind of youthfulness. Sawyer was pretty much really down a good while ago, having been shattered, but very badly. Then Danny found her. Got her on her feet, tried to help her out. Now, she's the equal to him. She does the main entertainment with some others at times. She sings very, very well.
I'm not sure how Danny had found her. Maybe they just happened to meet out on the street. Would have made sense. You meet a lot of strangers on the street. Maybe something bad was happing and one had saved the other. I could also see these two saving each other's furry butts
There's been a rumor around the joint that the two of them are an item. It'd help the both of them, that's for sure. After all, you can only go so far on your own, especially if you're recovering. But then, maybe that's not a hot idea. Being an item out of necessity isn't quite that good, at least that's what I think.
I'm not smiling though. "A human." That's all I need to say until our two friends are silent, stunned to hear those words. They're just as aware as I am about the importance of this. A missing human would REALLY rain crud and other foul things down upon this part of town. As if there wasn't enough raining down on it already.
"No clues as of yet," Cranston tells them, "But we were hoping you could have overheard something."
"Relying on the charm of this place?" Sawyer asks, still showing a sly kind of smile, seems to be her trademark.
"Haven't heard the both of you complain yet." I reply, showing a half-smile, half-smirk.
"Of course not. It's always good to help a friend." Danny comments. "But unfortunately, we haven't heard anything yet. I would imagine if a human was kidnapped, they'd really keep quiet as possible. Probably too much for this place to handle."
I silently nod. "Be sure to let us know if you do hear anything, alright?"
Danny also nods. "Of course."
And so Cranston and I exited the Surviving Dream, but not before we got a chance to overhear a conversation between Danny and Sawyer.
"Oh great.... performance coming up."
"Something wrong about that Sawyer?"
"Nothing Danny...it just.... it just gives me bad memories."
"I know the feeling.... although we mustn't give up faith, if anything else. There will always be another chance."
"Yeah, I know...... I just don't know when......"
"Relax Sawyer. Sooner or later, things will get better."
"I hope so Danny."
"Danny! What happened to Jake?"
"A wrecking ball miss!"
"Take it easy Cranston!"
"Um..... I thought a wrecking ball could take a person's head off."
"Don't say that Sawyer!!"
"Yeah, it may just come off like that!"
Faith...... that was the most powerful thing you could have in this part of town. Those two, they had it the most. God, did I admire and envy them all the same for that. They made the most of it, while I left myself drift downwards to these awful streets. Why did I do such a thing? To help those in need? Maybe it was because I refused the handicap the humans had.
Every time those two had a discussion between each other about keeping faith, it immediately sobered me up and for a good while, I felt more like a real being in this crazy world with its crazy views and even crazier people. People who still judged from the outside. It bended me out of shape every time I thought about it....... maybe that was the reason I fell this low and so willingly to boot. I tried to hide from those thoughts, those harsh realities.
I tried; god knows I tried plenty of times. And every time, I eventually could only turn away, feeling the heat of many jabbering humans who no longer had respect for me, not because of how low I was, but because of who I befriended.
Animals. That name still seems primitive, especially when compared to the more scientific term, Anthromorphic people, or in short, Anthros. Animals though, that struck a note around here. Humans used the word in a very degrading way that is very painful and venomous to anyone if they were called that. You couldn't create an equal insulting name to humans, not in the position you'd be in.
Plenty of times you can look upward to the many buildings that litter this part of town and see silhouettes through the windows. That's all you could see. Silhouettes.
Most of the time, you could find one being. The majority of the time, he or she would have their head down in a manner that is very common. However, there is also a time where such a being is looking at something, maybe a picture, and starts crying of a better past, and an uncertain future, already added to a dismal present. This being would've been devastated by a sadness that is almost unthinkable, but even I unfortunately know all too well. And yet that being will put that thing down, and turn off the lights, just to face another day.
Then at times, you will find two beings in a window. Once again, you'll usually see one trying to comfort the other. It's always a good comfort to have some kind of shoulder to cry on. Someone to relieve your sorrows for a little bit. And yet, there are times when a couple will wind up in a passionate embrace, then you'll KNOW that for just one night, they can forget the reality around them, and just feel happy. Wouldn't you give anything to be in someone else's arms and just be loved for a while? This in itself, feeling loved, was something not even the richest man could buy in this town.
And then you may come across something that you rarely come upon, especially in this town. You'll find a family in those windows. You'll find the mother and the father joyously playing with their happy little children, running and giggling in such a way that you yourself would think that you weren't standing in some dank, dark street, but in fact were standing on a gentle looking road in a small town filled with grassy fields and where you could see the sun rise and set every single day. It's enough to make a grown man cry around here.
Faith in itself was very powerful..... but mix it with love and hope..... and in this little world you are unstoppable as you possibly can be, where the only way you won in this game was to just survive.
No, your psychical body wasn't on the line.
It was your soul.
"We should call for help, shouldn't we?"
".... brilliant idea Sawyer! Uh, one problem."
"We don't have any change."
"This is so frustrating........." I mutter as I bite into a hot dog. I'm talking to my partner as always, but I'm at a hot dog vendor. Having dinner, and the clouds managed to stop raining for a while.
Trust me, you could call me a hot dog worshipper. Maybe it's a new religion? Nah, that's only in my dreams. No way I'd start a religion for this little love I've developed for these little wieners you put in a bun and squirt ketchup on. And the bad guys never know they could drag hints from me just by using this as bait. Just too easy.
Cranston eyes me skeptically. "Have you forgotten your lessons already kid?"
I glare. "If it weren't for the fact I'm eating, I'd deck you across the street."
He isn't fazed by my threat. "The question still stands. You should check where this character lives, should check where he works, and interview everyone who was close in one way or another to him." He lectures me.
It's VERY hard to take a lecture. It's one of the best tools to use when you intend to hack an ego in half. I know, you're thinking to yourself, 'it won't happen to me.' Only, it does hurt you when it happens. You can't help that. All you can do is endure it.
I was open to quite a few lectures form my partner, who's seen pretty much everything in his time. He knows everything there is to know, he's done everything there is to do, and he's seen everything there is to see about the private eye business. I guess it's a good reason for the lectures. He KNOWS what he is doing.
I can't even reply. All I can do is glare at my smirking partner as we continue to eat. I hate partners sometimes.
"What about Jake? Doesn't he have change?"
"What, we should rob him?"
"He could die Danny. And you're worried about ROBBING him?"
"VERY good point Sawyer."
It's safe to say I do not resemble a proper Private Eye right now. I'm just at the Surviving Dream, sitting and thinking. This time, my partner is back at my office, working over some clues. So why ain't I there?
I guess his earlier lecture rang my bell harder than I originally thought.
I'm interrupted from my thoughts by a furry orange hand that had been placed upon mine. I look up into emerald eyes. I know who is there, I know why he's near me at this exact time. I know him all too well.
"You know, if you won't buy anything, I'll have to ask you to leave." Danny tells me, in a joking tone. I'm correct as usual, even though it does nothing to help my mood. I don't even reply.
His face turns serious. "Something bothering you Jake?"
I'm wondering why I can't see this fellow as more than just a regular friend. Hell, most of the time friends will let you wallow in your own misery. Whatever has you down, they figure, will bring them down too. He doesn't. He comes right in there and helps you. Hell, he doesn't even become down himself!
"I'm questioning why I became a detective."
This isn't the first time I've questioned it. In fact, it's kind of a broken record with me. From the look on Danny's face, HE'S heard it too many times.
He's about to respond when there is an interruption. An angelic interruption.
For just a moment, I can see what she tried to become in this city. Her intense copper eyes give a spectacular shine, that of two bright and dazzling stars. Her Persian hair is all properly cared for, looking so smooth and clean. Her face shows a radiance that practically outshines everything in this place, a definite sign of a far more optimistic Sawyer, something that most thought could never be recovered. Her snowish-white dress matches her very well, giving her an appearance of an angel, brought down from heaven to lift many spirits from desolation.
But her voice..........if there was a word to describe it, I sure as hell wouldn't know of it.
I take a quick glance at Danny. Slightly glazed eyes, big smile on his face, a deep and content sigh, not to mention the relaxed pose he has. He is HOOKED on her. Calling Doctor Love! Calling Doctor I. M. N. Love!!!!
I'm suddenly smiling; in fact, I'm damn near grinning. "And I guess I've found my answer."
This shakes Danny out of his little dreamland. "Huh? What'd you say Jake?"
"I said I think I've found my answer." I reply. It's all I need to say as I get up, gather my coat and fedora, and quietly walk out of the bar. Sawyer's voice I can still hear as I walk out, the words very clear to me.
"And I need you
And I need you more than ever,
And if you only hold me tight,
We'll be holding arms forever,
And we'll only be making it right,
Cause we'll never be wrong together........"
"Wait a moment.... he's still alive... looks like he'll come through!"
"How can you tell Danny?"
"He's humming something."
I'm feeling positively grand as I stroll down the streets. It's a very unusual feeling, you know? I feel as if I'm flying, yet I'm well aware my feet have never left the ground, well, not both at the same time. And to think a good 30 minutes or so ago, I was feeling VERY low. I'm talking of the deep, dark depths of hell low, you know?
So what was the answer?
What's the reason Danny continues to support the bar he made, or the reason that Sawyer still sings? Better yet, I knew the answer all along, but I NEVER believed it.
It was all so simple. I KNEW it all along, but in all honestly, I thought it was just a terrible lie. All I thought it was a simple little gimmick to avoid a mass exodus, and any humiliation that would go with it.
They believed. I didn't.
What a fool I was.
The walk back to my office was quite uneventful. I found that rather odd. I mean, there's usually something going on out on these streets. The place looks devoid of any being activities. Like everyone just went and disappeared.
Even weirder was the sight at my office. Cranston was not even there. It didn't even look like he WAS there!! Did everyone just VANISH into thin air????
Oh, wait. The landlord is screaming about overdue rent. I guess not everyone vanished.
I step outside, the night sky unusually clear. This is like a really bad omen. The sky is never this bright on any other night in this blasted town. Too much smoke and clouds for that.
I can see a silhouette in an alleyway, the shape rather unreadable. I creep closer and closer to it, my hand ready to take action the moment this figure notices me. I'm an adequate fighter, so I can take care of myself.
I can barely approach the being before it suddenly turns around. I duck down into a fighting stance, ready to holler multiple curses, and kick me some butt!
"Geez kid! I could've blown your HEAD off!!" Oh, it's only Cranston. I can tell he means it, because of the Thompson .45, or better known as the Tommy Gun, aimed right at my head. He must mean business.
"What's going on? Nobody is around....." I say, once again taking a good look. It's actually kind of scary.
"A group of humans came around. Carrying another. I think you'll know their leader." He replies.
Enrique Martinez. One of the biggest gangsters in the Animal District. Easy pickings were his reason to be here instead of the Human Zone. Not that he hated animals, just that he considered them easier to take advantage of.
He was also one of the few goons I hadn't slammed yet.
Easy to tell what he looked like. Mexican features, dark hair, bit of a mustache, brown eyes. Always dressed like a gangster. Apparently that's all he ever wanted to be. It's odd, but what the heck, it's technically a free country. Unless you picked an occupation that would get you in the slammer, you know?
"Whenever humans are around here, many of us animals-"
"Whatever. Many of us Anthros want to be scarce, especially with the human attitude. Get what I'm saying?" He says.
"Yeah, I do." I reply. "So, where'd they go?"
"In there." He replies, pointing to a nearby basement door.
We know EXACTLY what to do.
"You think we should wake him up?"
"He appears to be having a dream."
"I'd hate to have him leave a dream that would be half-way finished........ why is everyone looking at me like that?"
"Should've known you'd say that Danny."
I've heard a lot of people and other beings say they dreamed about having my job, being the hero and all that. They liked the idea of always beating the bad guys, solving all the clues, that sort of thing.
I'm pretty sure they never thought they'd be fired upon with bullets!
You see, we managed to get through the door, coming across a walkway that was littered by a couple barrels. Unfortunately, this triggered the 20+ thugs below with plenty of heavy weaponry, as they opened intense fire. Cranston had managed to hide behind a barrel, which was talking lots of the abuse, and wouldn't last much longer. Me? I was experiencing 'Devine Intervention'.
Or in simpler terms, I had no protection, but nobody was hitting me. They kept missing. I was so scared I couldn't fire back. I think I also wet my pants BADLY.
And all of a sudden, they all just ran out of ammo.
Now, this is NOT the way a detective wants to gain an advantage over the thugs. A detective wants to overcome their fire, and take them all down. A detective wants to jump in front of bullets that don't hit their target, and hit every. Single. Thug. One shot each. A detective does NOT want to win by the enemy running out of ammo!!!
No sign of Enrique or Ned either. That just made it worse, when reporting it to the police.
The human police.
It's rather hard giving a report to a bunch of scruffy characters who hate your guts, just like most other humans. And when they hear you've screwed up, it gives them added fuel to hate you.
Not to mention the embarrassment you feel when they mercilessly ridicule you for wetting your pants.
No disrespect to them of course. Unlike other humans, they didn't discriminate on the job. Regardless of what you were, they were there to help. Those that didn't like it had to stick around because this job buys their bread.
So still no sign of our missing person, no clues, and no suspect. Could be Enrique, but guesses don't count. I needed hard evidence.
"I'm not going to do it."
"Crying out loud Danny, it's just a dream!"
"No, I mean I'm not going to PUNCH him!!"
"Nothing else is working!"
"Why don't you?"
"I'm a lady. Ladies don't use their fists."
"God damn it, I'LL DO IT!!!!!"
Normally, I'm not a major fan of browsing thought someone else's living place, but hell, I needed SOMETHING in this case, and it figured to be a good shot that Ned would have something here that would help.
Cranston's lecture was still stinging me as I looked through every possible inch of this place. Searching the missing person's area was part of the game, and I ignored that for now. Well, I could offer an excuse, like I just started on the case, but it would show a good degree of laziness on my part, and that wouldn't do well for business.
At least my partner was away getting information from the thugs.
Those thugs.... I'm stung by those guys too. It was an embarrassing victory to say the least, if you could even call THAT a victory. Me? I called it a goddamn disgrace.
"I was wondering when you'd get to that."
Miss Alyssa Henderson. I had forgotten she was Ned's neighbor.
I turn around sharply to launch a retort at her when she silences me with a quick raise of her hand. I must admit, not everybody can silence me in such a way. Come to think of it, she was the first. I remember the first encounter when she presented the case. She kept shutting me up in such a manner whenever I was rambling too much. I was still in the mood to take a day off, you understand.
"If you're still a bit new to the business you work with Mr. Anderson, then you are. We all make little mistakes, or very big ones, and we all also forget things from time to time. Nothing terribly wrong with that, it's what makes us flesh, blood, and hair."
I try to speak up, but she silences me again.
"It doesn't matter what business you're in. It still happens."
Well, she didn't silence me THIS time.
"It's an ego thing Miss Henderson."
She smiles. "Quite understandable."
I silently turn around and continue searching. I must admit, that was a VERY uplifting thing she told me. Uplifting enough to remove my low feelings from the lecture and embarrassments from before, that much is clear.
Wait a sec..... I found something.
Oh. My. God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I just begin turning around to show Alyssa when I see a fist come right at me........
"OW!!!!!!!!.........WHO THE %@&# HIT ME!?!?!?!?!!?"
I've just screamed this, having been awoke from some unbelievably odd dream. A fist got me out of it. Guess you can figure out why I became pissed off.
Let's see.... couldn't have been Danny. Too nice. No, not Sawyer either. Her fists are too small.
"Cranston!!!! I'll kick the &%*&^$(*$(&^$&^$#(#(# outta you!!!!!!!"
I must still be a little dozy from my little wrecking ball-induced sleep, because it's very easy for my feline friends to hold me down, not to mention keep a couple of my limbs from flailing along. All in all, it takes me a couple minutes to calm down.
"Jake, you alright?" Sawyer asks. "Yeah, you were pretty well clonked out." Danny remarks.
"I was...until the Goatster here gave me a right hook..... ow...." I reply, holding onto my sore jaw. I pick up a discarded detective comic, something I just bought. Oh yeah, I was reading it the moment I got clobbered.
"So...what was your dream about?" This crazy comment once again got Danny some real odd looks, myself included. You have a friend, who's knocked out, damn near dead, and all you can ask is what kind of dreams he had? Hell, that's something I would say!
I'm not joking.
All I can do is look at my friends, look at the comic, and think about that dream I had. You cannot say an idea can escape me.
"I believe I found a grand idea."
((Comments? Criticism? Complaints? A couple of requests? Bring em on! E-mail me at mailto:Zycho32@yahoo.com ))
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