Author: Adelphus PM
Everyone else has their 'Carmen Origin' story, so here's mine. I am awesome at summaries.Rated: Fiction T - English - Chapters: 6 - Words: 11,397 - Reviews: 3 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 02-11-12 - Published: 02-05-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7810008
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chpt. 6. Life as she made it.
June 17, 1985
Route 66, Somewhere in Arizona
But she never did go to a hospital.
Carmen passed out on the floor instead.
When she came to, she realized that going to a hospital was about the worst thing she could possibly do. The government could use hospital records and find her. Send in a fake nurse with a few more cc's of anesthesia then the human body could take and it would be over without a fight. Carmen wasn't paranoid. No, she just knew the wonderful, mysterious ways of her former employers.
Carmen paid for another night and did little else the next day besides sleep.
She was on a new mission, though not one she really wanted to think about. She hastily buried the remains of her heart in the back of her mind. It was the only way she knew how to cope and she was running against time.
Carmen spoke to the wind, on the road once again.
"Now how in the world do I start a band of...wait, what am I going to be doing? Counterfeit? No, that's not something one can do professionally. This is no one-shot deal. I'll be doing this for the rest of my life, however long that may be. Crime lord? Serial killer? I might as well go the whole nine yards..."
Carmen pondered this for a moment and then shook her head.
"Wait, what am I saying? I may be a criminal, but this is, well... this is still me we're talking about."
Carmen decided not to take her mindless ramblings seriously. Not only was she talking aloud to herself, she was talking aloud to herself illogically.
'I'm going to need some help with this, but who can I trust?'
She had just the person.
January 11, 1983
The police wagon rattled its way down the icy road. Once again it was snowing out, but Detective Sandiego could care less about the whims of nature. She had gotten her man of the day and with her mission completed she could focus on the next. Carmen paused to wonder why snowy nights made her start thinking in Russian, than continued to plan for the next case and the paperwork she would have to fill out.
Across from her sat her captive, a thin, lanky man with orange-red hair and a scar running down his right cheek. He was dressed in a battered trench coat and a dark brown felt hat with a feather in the brim, old trousers held up by brown suspenders over a dirty faded pink and yellow striped shirt. Everything was rumpled and dirty, yet he smelled of Old Spice.
He had a hippie-beatnik feel about him, that even though he had been caught, he wasn't really going to let it bother him. He slouched up against the corner of the police van and sighed. Then he set his attention on the dignified figure in the maroon trench coat across from him.
Carmen was dimly aware that her prisoner had taken to staring at her but continued to read her novel.
She would find this to be no easy task.
Carmen continued to ignore him.
The man put on his best smile tried again. "Canna have a cigarette?"
"Com'mon. I'm at least worth a cigarette!"
Carmen gave him a look to freeze hell but Scar Graynolt was not going to give up that easily. He decided to drop his dumb act.
"Sandiego, is it? I've heard of you. It's a shame, really."
Carmen decided that as there was a two-hour trip ahead of her, maybe if she talked to him for a little while he'd leave her alone.
"What is a shame?" She asked dryly, not looking up from her book.
"You're wasting your time in this dead-end job. It's so sad. You're a stooge, my God! With all that intelligence, and all the power to unravel puzzles…I bet you would make a great thief."
Carmen shot him a look.
"I would never lower myself to working against society and making life miserable for others." She said with the annoyance of someone who had said the same reply over and over and was tired of repeating.
Scar knew better. He knew she was tired of repeating it to herself. Not outright, but he had a feeling and he was going to act on it.
"Work against society? Make people miserable? Only if you want to. The real kingpins of the underworld are really quite agreeable people, when you give them what they want. But that's beside the point. What's so great about being a detective?"
"To help others and-"
"Nah, I mean, what do you get out of it? Don't give me that, 'for the good of the people' crap. What does this job really give you?"
"I find it intellectually stimulating and it gives me a sense of accomplishment. I enjoy it. End of story."
"Sense of accomplishment, aye? They just go back on the street. Even you can't pretend that you don't see that. Let me tell you something, Sandiego. Don't be so quick to put down honest thievery. Your precious government steals all the time. At least we're upfront about what we do. Besides, we're not all lowlifes. Why, someone you know might be a thief."
Carmen tried to return to her book as Scar continued on, but found herself reading the same sentence over and over.
"As for intellectually stimulating? Here's the facts. Think, Sandiego, with your great logical mind. It is we, the thieves, that must be more intelligent. We must know where to hide, when to move. We create the great schemes! You only dissect them. Could you challenge the world and get away with it? "
Scar was enjoying himself. Carmen was not.
"And those stakeouts. That's why detectives are always shown with trench coats. Because they have to sit for hours in the rain, snow, wind, in little corners of alleyways, rooftops, beat-up cars, in the trenches, all on a hunch, on an anonymous tip! The thief could show up, or, per-chance, they may say, 'My, it looks cold out there. I think I'll go home and take a hot bath instead.' Meanwhile, you're still stuck there like a sap. And heaven forbid you leave. They'll give you hell for that, even if you're in danger of losing a toe."
Carmen stared at the wall in front of her and the man could see that he was getting under her skin.
"So, where are you going after this? Oh, I forgot, you don't have much choice, do you? Wherever the criminal goes, you must go. We go where we want. You simply follow. We are the masters of our own fates. I'm a petty thief. I steal watches and did some counterfeiting. Nothing worth remembering. Nothing worth caring about. Nobody will even notice I'm gone, but you, you could be a master. You know how to bargain and deal, how to plan and scheme."
Carmen was not even considering any of the points he laid out. She had decided to let the man rant and rave all he wanted, but the discussion was closed as far as she was concerned.
Scar could feel the finality in the air, but he had one more hour and he felt a sort of desperate need to tear this woman out of her storybook world, to make her see that she was not what she thought she was; a fighter for justice, but a pawn in a corrupt game beyond her control.
"I know you brought down some pretty high and mighty drug lords. So, Carmen, where are they now?"
Scar let it hang. He knew the answer. He knew she did too.
They were free.
All the evidence she collected had been thrown out, all her witnesses silenced through bribery, fear, or death, all her brilliant testimony smashed by the manipulations of equally criminal lawyers. Nothing stuck to them. They were invincible, and Carmen, no matter how good she was, she would never, never be enough.
She felt sick but rallied. The law would win and justice would be restored. The good guys always won in the end. It was the way of the world. Still, she wanted desperately for the man to silence. She didn't want to be poisoned by these false beliefs.
She wanted him stop.
Scar could read her distress through her mask but did not relent. 'I feel bad about this, really I do, but this is for your own good.'
"Where are they now?"
Carmen bitterly ignored him.
"The US government is locked in a race with the Commies to see who gets to blow up the planet first. What you're doing is the last thing they care about. Meanwhile the floodwaters are rising and you're going to drown if you stay where you are. This isn't Utopia! You're going to have to decide, Carmen. Blissful ignorance or intellectual freedom. One takes more work than the other, but one is worth more than the other. Liberate yourself, before it's too late! Climb higher, become a lord yourself. You can create your own empire of whatever you like. It need not be drugs, war, or suffering, but for God's sake, do something!"
Carmen was seemingly off in another world, which left Scar wondering, 'Why do I care? Why bother? It's all lost on her. Oh well, I tried, and that's more than I should have done for a cop. Sorry, kid. Didn't want to open your eyes...'
June 17, 1985
Route 66, Somewhere in Arizona
'But I have now.'
Carmen never knew why that man had been so bent on teaching her reality. She was, after all, sending him to prison. He hadn't said a word after his speech but continued to regard her with pity. It had unnerved her at the time, but she soon forgot it and went on her blissfully ignorant way.
There was only one man could help her now.
She was off to see the Wizard of Oz.
June 17, 1985
Sing Sing Penitentiary, New York
"Right this way, Ms. Sandiego." Said a prison guard as Carmen was lead into the visiting room. Visiting rooms in the mid eighties were much different then. The wall dividing the good from the bad was roughly the same as that of a bank teller's, with a hole in the bottom so that a hand may be extended through it. They were far more personal, a godsend for Carmen, who was in desperate need of a tangible human being. She wondered if he would remember her.
"Alright, alright, who wants to see me? If it's that damn lawyer again, throw 'em in the cell next to me. He's more of a crook than I. He lost the case, he gets nothing. It's two years now! How long is it going to take- you?"
Carmen said nothing, hoping he could read the urgency in her eyes.
"Well, well, well. I haven't seen you in a while." Scar asked as he sat down heavily before her. "What, need me to rat on someone? I worked alone, you know. By the way, how's the government treating you? Still pretending to be Wonder woman?"
When she still didn't answer, he took a good look at her face, and after a long pause he spoke again in a low, quiet voice.
Carmen found she couldn't look him in the eye. She turned to the side, fearful her impassive mask would slip away and presented her case in as dignified a way as she could.
"I need...some assistance. On a new campaign."
Scar repeated the question with the same patience. He wanted this answered first.
"What do you mean?"
Carmen went quiet as she struggled over whether to tell this convict, this criminal, of her collapse.
'But I have to tell someone. Besides, I doubt I'll live long enough for it to make a difference either way.'
"I know too much."
Carmen gave in.
"Damn it, you win? Are you happy, Graynolt? It was just as you said it would be. They tried to sacrifice my life 'for the greater good' and may well still succeed if I don't get out of this country. What is there left for me to do now? This is a crooked world and I was brought up in a fairyland of ethics and morals. Good can't win here."
"So you were listening?"
"You're getting a sick kick out of this, aren't you?"
"And why not? This should be one big, beautiful vindication for you. I'm the one who put you here. Now I have no country, no family, no beliefs, nothing. The mortifying irony of it all..."
"I don't have a country either, Carmen." he replied quietly and sighed. "Do you think I made all that stuff up just to scare you? I was once an intelligence clerk for the KGB, but I decided I wanted to trade sides. I came to your great country, America, to aid your side in the Cold War. I gave loyal service for seven years, Carmen! I helped protect your nation's evils from those of a nation equally as bad. I didn't believe in the arms race, but I had been sold on, brain-washed into the Greater Good. Remember the chant? You know the chant."
"Yes. It's made itself quite known in my mind as of late."
"Well I nearly did die for America when I left the KGB, and so you what happened to me? McCarthyism happened to me. Round up those Commie bastards! Throw them in cages, interrogate them to death, purge America! Well they didn't get me. I escaped through a window when I overheard my supervisor 'making preparations for Mr. Tyrovski'. I had been with them for seven years."
He seemed to withdraw as his memories returned.
"So I ran back to my native Sweden, but I'm just a ghost there. The US and the USSR are looking for Tyrovski, but according to forged documents he died in a plane accident. Fake passport, fake ID, fake existence. I went underground just to survive…'
His focus returned to her.
"But someone like you, you could actually get somewhere. I tried to spare you this. I don't know... I suppose you reminded me of me when I was young and stupid."
Carmen let it settle in her mind. The world felt slightly less heavy now. She put her hands together in front of her as her demeanor shifted into something new.
"So you say I would do well in the underground. Do go on."
"Are you asking what I think you're asking?"
"Show me the ropes and I'll make myself at home. I'm in need of a new one."
"If you were a kingpin..."
And so it was decided.
Carmen went out for a quick cup of coffee, then returned to smooth out some small wrinkles, such as getting Graynolt on the other side of the bullet-proof glass.
"You could," he paused to cough obviously "persuade the guard in some way."
Graynolt made an hour-glass figure with his hands.
"Or the...ah...other way."
He rubbed his thumbs together.
"Ach. As I do recall, you are up for parole in a month."
"Oh. That could work, but what fun is that?"
Carmen sighed. "I hate to wait, but a month will give me time plan and secure funds."
"Going to knock off a bank?"
Carmen thought for a moment. 'That would be the criminal thing to do.'
But then she realized that she didn't want to be 'just a criminal'. She wanted to be something more stylish than that, more sophisticated than that.
"No. I have a bit tucked away."
"Where? In the Criminal Retirement Fund? If mind serves me, you worked for ACME. What money?"
"I run the gambit in Wall Street fairly well. My money is where the government can't touch it. I'll just nick off a few shares."
"You can get decent starter money out of a 'few shares'?"
"I can do anything I want."
Graynolt smiled. She already had the attitude right.
'Maybe she'll make it after all. I wonder, what did happen to her?'
It occurred to Graynolt that while he had told her too much about his past, she had told him everything and yet nothing at all about hers.
'Crafty old fox.' He thought with growing admiration.
"I'll leave it to you, boss. See you on the other side."