A/N: I've been holding off posting this one for a long time. I think now's as good a time as any. Girlwithoutfear's been a bit busy, so any mistakes are, as usual, my own.

Playing the System

"Pascoe Sweeney? NYPD. Mind coming with us to the station? We have a few questions regarding the murder of Jonathon Murdock."

That was (I check my watch exaggeratedly) almost two hours ago. I shouldn't have agreed to come. They could have done whatever they needed to do from my office. But no, I had to play all surprised and "yes sir, Mr. Policeman." Now I'm stuck in this interrogation room being watched from behind a mirror by Starsky and Hutch.

Ah, here they come. About time! When the cops say "make 'um sweat", they literally mean S-W-E-A-T. It must be eighty degrees in here!

"Mr. Sweenty?" I contemplate correcting him, but it wouldn't do much good. A cop is only as bright as his badge and his ain't shining, if you know what I mean. "I'm Detective Flannelly and this is my partner, Detective Cruz. We're from homicide."

Homicide? I'm insulted. I was hoping organized crime.

"Something I can do for you gentleman?" I'm going for the totally-innocent/no-clue-why-Murdock-would-have-a-bullet-hole-outside-my-gym look.

And a one. Two. Three. Hel-lo! Out come the pictures. Well, Murdock don't look too healthy, do he? Looks like he forgot to dry off after a dive into the cherry kool-aid.

"Do you recognize this man?" the shorter detective asks. Is he Cruz? Nah, it's Flannelly.

I pretend to search my memory for the name. "Yeah, that Jack?"

The second detective, Cruz, pulls the picture back and looks at it like he's forgotten what it's of. "Yes. How did you know Mr. Murdock?"

"He's my fighter."


Jeez, they didn't do their research too well, huh? I'm amazed they can find their badges let alone their guns in the morning. Actually, not the guns. Like the saying goes, cops have to compensate somehow.

"Yeah. Murdock is—was—a fighter. Good one too." I screw my face into something resembling troubled. "Had a son, I think. Smart kid."

"So you know him?" It's Flannelly again.

"Nah. Just heard 'bout him. Blind as a bat, you know." I wonder how much longer I can keep them in circles.

They both nod in sync. "So where were you last night around nine thirty pm?"

"I gonna need a lawyer?" Oh I love it when they squirm! As if I would actually call my lawyer to this? Why spend 250 an hour on an idiot who spews nonsense over something that can't go anywhere?

"We're just clearing the air," Cruz interrupts. "We need to clarify some things. Procedure."

I stare at him out the corner of my eye for a few moments before answering. "Prepping my next fighter."

"Can he confirm this?"

"Yeah." Of course he can, and without my pocketbook getting much lighter this time. After all, I didn't kill the guy. Slade did. I just watched. That's the best part of being the boss: no mess with blood.

"What's his name?" Flannelly says.

"Frank. Frank Clint." The guy's an idiot. He didn't last thirty seconds last night. Don't know why I don't pop him. Should've turned him holey 'stead of Murdock. Even I have to give the old man credit; he fought a good fight. Still saying he should've lost, though. Man never knew when to stay down. Like now, colder than hard cash and still makin' trouble.

Cruz leaves, presumably to check out my alibi. Or maybe they're changing tactics and planning the classic good-cop-bad-cop thing. I love that one.

"How was Mr. Murdock's record in the ring?" Flannelly continues. Clearly not a boxing fan. I'm not surprised. I'll bet money he's ballet.

I shrug my shoulders. "Okay. Couple'a wins lately. Small prizes but big winnings, if you know what I mean."

"No, I'm not sure I do."

I wink and take out one of my favorite cigars. I think about lighting it, but I don't have my lighter and the detective don't seem too keen on lending a flame. I shove it between my teeth. "I'm the boss. I pay him when he does what I say."

"So you rig the fights?" Flannelly sounds encouraged.


My mama always said my big feet would choke me some day. I should've paid more attention to her. Guess that means she's getting a card come May. I backpedal as quickly as I can. "You sure I don't need my lawyer?"

Cruz reappears and whispers in his partner's ear. I guess I owe Frank a raise, or maybe I'll tell Slade to hold off for a few days.

Flannelly starts talking to me again. Good, I was feeling ignored. "Mr. Sweeney, we're sorry for the inconvenience."

I press my face into an innocent but wounded expression. "I'm sure you were just doing your job, Detective."

Five minutes later, I'm a free man.

I'm leaving the station when I hear them talking to a blind kid, probably Murdock's brat. I catch a bit of their speech.

"…If we could prove it…"

I'm almost to the elevator before my mouth opens. "Detectives?" Cruz looks up and mini-Murdock looks ready to jump me. Too bad he's blind; with that stance, the kid could've been a good enforcer – just like his good ole man. "Try them alley cats. Spook 'um and they bite like a bitch."

Now I'm ready to leave. Suckers!