Unwritten Rule

Fade down the big kiss, fade down the kitchen sink drama, how did we get to Mutant Town? Mutant Town was made by one thing, the Genetic Housing Civil Reform Act of 1986, which had one purpose, namely giving the middle finger to the ACLU's Genetic Housing Equality Lawsuit Unit headed by a young charismatic black woman who was coming after the landlords of New York City with a smile, a spray of dreadlocks sticking off the back of her head, a discount-store grey suit, and a line of deformed mutant clients that would have stretched from One Federal Plaza to the Avengers Mansion. She might as well have been after the landlords with a meat axe for all that she made them felt felt trapped and desperate. They made calls. They had money. Someone had to invent something. What got invented was the Genetic Housing Civil Reform Act. The GHCRA was invented by Senator Robert Kelly and so in addition to being called Mutant Town and District X, the segregated slum where the only landlords who would rent to mutants could be found was also called Kellytown.

The New York Police Department shoved the Worst Of The Finest into Kellytown, crammed dirty cops under indictment and rookies who would never make it, jammed drunks with nightsticks and addicts with guns into the ugliest precinct house and gave them nothing, nothing with which to keep the peace other than the number one unwritten rule of the precinct:


The second to last thing that any squarejohn citizen wanted to see was a mutant criminal out in their clean-gene city, and the last thing they wanted to see was a mutant victim. They had gone to all that trouble of making a cesspool for mutants to drown in, so the word came from the top, the very top regarding what they wished and what they would do to get what they wished and what they wished for Mutant Town was


Officer Dennis Hill rode the subway in to work every morning in that Kellytown Precinct. Hill liked being in the NYPD. He liked the uniform, he liked the cop bars, he liked the gun, the nightstick and the taser, and he loved, loved, loved, taking money from people. Hill was big, he had played football in high school, in college, he was going to go somewhere, then he got hit once the wrong way and something went pop in his back and that was that. He had black skin, dark black, Africa black, big lips, shaved his head, he liked that he scared people by being a big black guy in New York City.

Officer Hill liked to scare people almost as much as he liked taking money from people, which made his favorite hobby extortion and his second favorite hobby blackmail. Hill got off the subway and came into the precinct that afternoon, late, after sampling the best to discover a printout stuck to the duty board detailing the theft at three a.m. of a truck full of VCRs which had just been offloaded down at the docks. They found the truck with no VCRs at ten-thirty this morning inside Mutant Town meaning that the brass now officially didn't give a shit what happened to the VCRs at least until they crossed the


again into the real New York City. Hill took a newspaper from the stand without paying, he never paid for anything on the street and if he ever was asked to, he would rap them on the mouth with the nightstick and say there's your payment asshole, now get back to work. He read the newspaper from front to back and decided he wanted Mets tickets, so he would need some money for Mets tickets, so he would find these VCRs and get himself a piece of the money to look the other way. He went to find a guy who might know. He found the guy who might know and he did know. So he went looking for Pratt, who had gotten the truck and driven it here and unloaded it for someone but nobody knew who.

Pratt was with his asshole buddies yucking it up in a strip club, eating shitty strip club hamburgers and waving singles at the bored half-naked girls. Hill walked up and kicked Pratt hard in the side of the face with his big black boot and before Pratt could react to the feeling of the concrete floor hitting him on the other side of the head, Hill dragged Pratt half off his feet and hit Pratt's ugly face into the bar. Then he dragged him into the hallway behind the bar and said, "Hi, Pratt. How much did you get for the VCRs?"

Pratt didn't say anything, he was flailing his arms around and screaming and crying. Norton Pratt was an ugly sonofabitch with scarred scaly gray skin and he always dressed in red, it was the only color he could see any shades of with his beady lizard eyes like black marbles in their sockets, he could see blood red and rose red and salsa red and valentine red and police light red and G-string red but everything else in the world was the same ugly gray as his ugly skin.

"Shut up." Hill said. "Shut your ugly face, Pratt. Shut up." He hit Pratt against the wall. Someone had written "morlocks live" on the wall with a black marker. Pratt shut up. "Listen carefully. You want to get hit again?"

"No." mumbled Pratt.

"No, you don't want to get hit again." Hill hit him again. Then again. "Now how much did you get for the VCRs?"

"Three grand." mumbled Pratt.

"How much went up the chain?" Hill demanded. Someone had written "6 TITS TINA 555-1821" on the wall in green marker.

"Three hundred." mumbled Pratt.

"Della Cava's guy?"

"Sure." Pratt said, like it didn't matter.

"Who'd you sell to?"

"I tell you, you let me walk?" Pratt said. Hill hit him against the wall three times, and the floor once. Pratt screamed. Hill kicked him in the crotch. Pratt screamed again and rolled over. His hand flailed at the stained concrete.

"Who'd you sell to?" Hill demanded, and put his boot on Pratt's forehead.

"Asshole. I sold to Howler Annie. You're an asshole." whined Pratt.

Hill leaned over and got Pratt's wallet out of his pocket and took five fifty dollar bills out of it, which he put into his own pocket. He kicked Pratt again and sneered at him. Outsde the sun was shining. It was going to be a good day.