AN: I wrote this a year ago and never thought of putting it up on until just now. A little drabble I wrote about one of my favorite magnificent bastards. If the only thing it's good for is making Lackadaisy look like it has more fanfiction, then that's alright with me.
"So I'm sure you see my predicament, don't you, Jim? ...Jim?"
Jim didn't answer, and Asa let out a sigh, though it wasn't as if the response (or lack thereof) was unexpected. Situations like these typically went only a few ways-begging, belligerence, or cold-foot silence, and that's what Asa Sweet had in his hands at the moment. Or, rather, on his floor, supposing Jiminey Cox hadn't move since the last time Asa had looked.
He glanced up from his putter, which hovered near the dimpled curve of a golf ball, and lo 'n' behold, there was Mr. Cox, down on his knees with his head bowed.
Hadn't moved, hadn't said much since they brought him in here and shoved the file folder of evidence in front of him, and not a word after good old Mordecai had put the barrel of that semi-automatic right up to the back of his head. Shame really. Asa would've liked to hear what the man had to say about infringed-upon trade routes and the half-dozen dead Marigold runners found not two weeks ago off the river Mississip.
Asa turned his gaze back down to the golf ball, shrugging wide shoulders and letting his putter swing back and forth in practice strokes just above its target.
"Did you hear me, Mr. Cox?" He asked, more out of the usual pattern than anything else. He knew he was heard-Asa's voice had a quality to it that allowed it audibility over the roar of a drunken crowd and (sometimes drunken) jazz, and right now the music and the dance floor were packed away into the speakeasy a few floors down, at best a muffled buzz on the office carpet and nothing more. No crowd here, thank you, apart from the proverbial three (three's a crowd, ha ha), but seeing as how it was made up of himself, the cold-footed Cox, and one Mr. Mordecai Heller, there was nothing much for Asa to compete with.
Nothing else but the silence, the slice of a swinging golf club, and the continuing tick tick tock of the wall clock, counting out the seconds of quiet before Asa spoke again.
"I really wish you would say something, Jim," he said, pausing the club's pendular movements to look over to the cup he'd placed feet away, a makeshift hole. "Might help your case a little if you tried. I'm a fair guy, I'll listen to what you have to say."
Nothing. Asa glanced up once, seeing that the man's head had bowed a little further, and then returned to his golf club. Pull back, swing, follow through. Slice, a whoosh of putter cutting air. Pull back again, repeat. Practice makes perfect, they always said...Asa liked to think he was good at games. Made sure to practice them often.
"You could say that you were framed," Asa suggested, chuckled a little at himself. Another slice. "Witnesses got reasons to lie, don't they? Neumeister was a stool pigeon in jail, he owes you money so of course he'd want you with your hands full of trouble, or something like that. Maybe you could say the letters were forged, someone copied your handwriting, put your signature up to a light and traced that out too." Swing. Fwoosh. Pull back. "Hell, how about they copied your hat and put it on the shoot out scene?" Another chuckle. "I'm fair enough to listen to any of that. How do those sound to you so far, Jimbo? Anything you might want to borrow? I'm full of ideas."
More nothing, and Asa was starting to get a little annoyed but did well enough not to let this show on his features past a raised eyebrow before he set his feet and swung at the air again.
"Not good enough?" he asked in pseudo-disappointment, clicking his tongue and shaking his head while the putter made a gentle arc back down from his follow-through. "Well, you know what they say, Jimbo, beggars can't be choosers... unless you've got another suggestion. Something else to say? You know me, Jim, I wouldn't usually press so hard about this stuff, I can tell you're a little bit uncomfortable"-he chuckled here, letting the golf club sway back and forth a few inches above the carpet; he could hear the minute chink of metal as Mordecai shifted slightly (Asa could feel the tiniest bud of impatience on the younger man and he laughed at that too)-"but my superiors would really love an answer. Hell, I'm a little curious myself. I'm sure Mr. Heller is too, aren't you, Mr. Heller?"
Mordecai fixed on him an annoyed glare, pursing his lips and evoking another rumbling chuckle from Asa's chest. Cox, however, did not react.
Another moment of silence passed, not that Asa could have really expected any different. Hoped, maybe (it would make things a bit more interesting at the very least, though Lord knew how much of a lie it'd been to suggest it would help Cox's case out too much-the man had left an evidence trail a mile long and dug himself into a hole a mile deep), but expected? No. He liked optimism as much as the next guy; if Jiminey Cox had more optimism, Asa's questions might've been answered, for example. But he'd seen enough in this sort of business (practiced his game enough times) to know how things went.
He lifted the putter, swung it once more so that it was just short of grazing the top of the golf ball. Slice. Whoosh. And again. A pendulum to the tick tock of the clock. More seconds passing into pregnant silence and unanswered questions.
"Well, if all you have to say for yourself, Jimbo, is nothing, then I guess you're not going to be clearing your name anytime-"
"You know it was me." The words were spat towards the floor, a sudden leap from silence for dear Mr. Cox. Asa was almost surprised. He paused mid swing...and then pulled the putter back again.
"I don't know anything," he said with a friendly lightness that served only as a thin veil to something a little less nice lurking beneath the surface of the words. "I can assume-"
"You showed me what you got on me," Cox said, and the harshness in his voice became tempered with emotion-belligerence and begging mixed together in place of that cold-foot silence that bothered Asa so much and he almost laughed again. "I know you know it was me and I know ain't nothing I can say is gonna help me outta this one-"
"So it was you," Asa interrupted. Mild surprise in his voice, nothing more.
"You know it was me!" Cox yelled again, this time they could hear the tears in his voice. Asa was setting his stance, feet apart, arms forming a V in front of him as the putter pointed a perpendicular into the floor. So casual and practiced, just short of whistling to complete the picture. "Dammit, you know it was me, why d'you have to keep playing around? What is this to you?"
Practice makes perfect, and Asa's putting posture was pretty good. He shifted from one foot to the other as if feeling the floor under his shoes to see if he was just right, hands tightening more assuredly on the grip.
"I don't assume much, Jimbo," he said with a preoccupied air. Busy, he sounded busy with his putter and his golf ball and his cup and his game, and Cox was busy crying wet spots onto his carpet. "But I appreciate you helping me out there. I'll be sure to tell my superiors what you said-they'll be happy to hear you confessed nicely. Didn't even have to twist your arm much, did I?"
No, not much at all. Asa'd done this before, after all...multiple times, multiple people. Different days, same shit as some wise soul said once. Sure Mordecai had a gun to the back of the blighter's head the entire time, but that's not what got him to talk, was it? Not the only thing at least...
Cox was hiccuping now, that silence he had made had scurried off into the corner, leaving a man that was a wail away from sobbing like a baby. "Stop toying with me...Jesus, please..."
"Now, now, no need to get upset," Asa said, and frowned a little at that, letting the little foot of his club sit on the floor by the golf ball. "We're just about done here, Jim. No more worries..." An eyebrow raised, a quirk of a smile. "Right, Mr. Heller?"
Squint eyes took quick but particular aim towards the little cup sitting several feet away on the carpet, and his body shifted slightly in response to the information. A gloved hand cocked a semi-automatic's hammer. The putter drew back. A finger tightened on a trigger. The club arched downward. All at once, sudden surety.
"Hm...lucky my good rug was out to the cleaners," Asa muttered, toeing Cox's body for a moment before continuing the rest of the trip to where his golf ball rested. It sat demurely against the bottom of the overturned cup (hole in one!) he had set up while Mordecai had tied Jiminey Cox's hands behind his back and forced him to his knees. "Gotta stop bringing this sort of work to the office, I think. You can only have so much blood on the floor before it starts being more frivolous than decoration."
He let out a booming laugh at that, kneeling down to pick up the cup, reaching in with a finger and a thumb to fish out his ball.
"Indeed," Mordecai answered, looking at the body with detached distaste before slipping his gun back into its holster. "I suppose now's the time to dispose of the body."
"If you're not busy, of course," Asa said with another chuckle, pulling the dimpled ball out and letting it rest in the palm of one strong hand. "I'd prefer it if you got it through before my office starts smelling like ol' Jimmy. The boy took a bath once a month, I swear." He tossed the ball up once, catching it smartly and then tucking it away into a pocket. "Good game, though, Mr. Heller. Good game."