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Blood and Bourbon

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Story Thirteen, Louis III

“The NOPD’s dirty. Yeah, and the Mississppi’s muddy.”
Vinny Cardona


Saturday morning, 12 December 2015

GM: Vinny and Lex say brief prayers of their own as the vampire burns. Vinny gives Lou a lift to the Greyhound terminal in Laplace, where the PI has another errand to undertake. The trio make a brief stop in Kenner, though, so Lex can use a bathroom. It’s while she’s gone that the younger detective turns to Lou and says,

“So, there was something I wanted your advice on.”

“About the paintings.”

“You remember those?”

Louis: The old man does. Then again, the old man remembers lots of things. Like 66,702: Kenner’s population as of the last census. 66,702 pairs of eyes and ears. Inadvertent eavesdroppers. Potential spies. And the census count just scratches the surface. Beyond the uncounted, there are also the uncountable. Birds. Bugs. Both kinds of bugs, actually. Thinking about it can drive a man to drink, or make him drive right off the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. Hard to say which would be worse, especially as the old man’s done both.

But not thinking about it… well, that just gets you dead. And the old man’s not ready to get there yet. Almost, but not yet.

So he thinks about it, and the worm of paranoia writhes. It gnaws into his recent joy, eating away its corners and bruising what otherwise might be a simple conversation between friends. But the Big Easy doesn’t do simple, and it rarely does easy, either.

Just like when Lou went looking into Micky Zyers for Vinny, back before a blonde-haired devil walked into his office and lit his life on fire. To be fair, his life was already on fire; the dame just brought gasoline.

Regardless, the old man had looked into Zyers’ whereabouts after his explosive showdown with René and subsequent retreat into hiding. And as with so many of his investigations, the old man did not like what he found. Mickey was nowhere to be found because he had already been found—and by no less than the NOSTF.

One didn’t have to pass the NOPD’s detective exam to see why Bobby’s off-the-books gang of vampire-hunting, but vampire-controlled, vigilantes would be interested in Mickey and the nicked Masquerade-threatening paintings.

Nor did it surprise Lou when he discovered the NOSTF were ‘storing’ Mickey in the heart of their turf: the Vieux Carré.

Breaking into their cop-guarded stronghold to ‘rescue’ the grade-A sleezeball wasn’t Lou’s idea of laying low, especially not in the wake of Rampart’s blowback. He was too hot, both with the fuzz and the leeches who held the NOPD’s if not also the NOSTF’s leashes.

Explaining all of that to the Vigil-rejecting detective had proved equally problematic, and it’s unlikely to be any easier now. Still, Lou forces himself to tear his worm-gnawed attention away from every potential eavesdropper to face his friend. Once more, he wishes he had a cigarette. Once more, he pushes past his personal wishes.

“Yeah, I remember them. I dig some digging there too, but the dirt I found wasn’t good, Vinny.”

GM: “Oh, you did?” the one-time bantamweight asks, raising his eyebrows.

“Well, I’ve done some too. The dirt I’ve found has been… mushy.”

“So wanted to get a second opinion.”

“Some other cops got to Zyers before I could.”

“But he’s not at OPP.”

“Hasn’t actually been booked for anything, as far as I can tell.”

“Which seems funny, because the slimeball’s done a hundred things someone could bust him for if they wanted.”

Louis: Lou nods.

GM: “I don’t know if you already know, Lou, but there are cops who see everything that’s wrong, everything that’s dirty, about the department, and they say… no.”

“I mean, hell.”

“I’m on the take.”

“Everyone’s on the fucking take.”

Louis: Lou knows. Even now, retired and in hiding from his former colleagues, he knows. Better than most of those same cops.

GM: “There’s talk, you know, about Drouillard stepping down. After that shit show with the shooting. Running for mayor.”

“Delron replacing him.”

“And fucking Cash Money, the new district commander!”

Vinny shakes his head.

Louis: Lou can’t help but raise a brow at that, jaded and calloused as he is. That’s news to him, and it’s bad news. It doesn’t get much dirtier than Delron and Cash Money, and the latter is dirty as they can come without a lick of blood. Sure, it doesn’t take poison to make a dirty rat stink, but a promotion for either is likely to put them on Savoy or his childe’s tab. Lou doesn’t like thinking about how bad those dirty rats would smell with poison…

The old man doesn’t so shake his head so much as he shivers.

GM: “He already leap-frogged up to LT, I guess what’s skipping captain too if your uncle runs the department?”

“I hear one story, though, that he doesn’t want the job as commander.”

“Because he’d have to wear a uniform.”

Vinny shakes his head again.

“Just fucking hell, Lou.”

“And Gettis going off the deep end.”

“What the fuck is this department coming to, sometimes.”

Louis: Lou’s pretty sure the slimeball would find a way to slip that requirement, but the old man doesn’t say that out. No point in pouring salt into already sore wounds.

But he does need to say something. At least once Vinny is done explaining. Which the cop isn’t.

GM: “So, anyway.”

“The guys who are saying enough is enough. Things have gone too far.”

“They’ve asked me if I want to help out. To help cut out the cancer, too. They say I can get my hands on Zyers, if I do.”

“They were cagey when I asked about how.”

“But I know he’s not been arrested. And he’s nowhere on the streets. I’ve talked to every CI, every huckster, every grifter, crack fiend, hooker, slimeball, that I can think of, who he might have associated with. Zyers is off the streets. Has been for a while now.”

“The guys I talked to make me thing he’s been held by them somewhere.”

“But he hasn’t been arrested. This seems dirty, too.”

“But isn’t everything?”

“What the fuck is an arrest even worth these days. My dad got arrested, and you can debate whether that was right or wrong, but he had a pretty posh stay in OPP. Got deli sandwiches delivered for his meals and everything.”

“And you can debate whether that’s right or wrong, but if you think about it, it doesn’t square with someone getting arrested. Defeats the point, doesn’t it, for jail to be a hotel stay?”

“On the other hand, Dad tells me he saw several guys stab each other to death outside his cell, so you have that too. And even that is pretty light next to what a shit show that place was during Katrina.”

Vinny shakes his head again.

“I know this isn’t news to either of us.”

“The NOPD’s dirty. Yeah, and the Mississppi’s muddy.”

“But I’d be pissed if I looked out one day and it was solid mud.”

“And I want Zyers. I want to get to the bottom of these paintings. They won’t get out of my head.”

“So… what do you think, Lou?”

Louis: The old man listens to Vinny’s racing freight train of thought, no less saddened despite foreseeing its ugly terminus. But maybe he can jump on and try to steer it away from the yawning canyon. Or maybe he’ll be dragged down into the abyss.

The old man pauses as if hoping for some inspired words to fill his lips. But the only immediate sound is his growling stomach.

Mierda.

He gazes eastward, towards the slow-rising sun as it bathes the Gulf in rosy gold.

“There is no trap so deadly as the one you set for yourself.”

He sighs, wishing he could taste nicotine and gin on his exhaling lips.

Turning back to Vinny, he says, “If I’d had a son, I’d have hoped he became half the man you are.”

GM: Lou doesn’t think he’s ever seen Vinny look… humbled? It’s an odd expression on the bantamweight, and he gives a low laugh as if to mask it.

“For, what, being on the take and having a hard-on for some weird paintings?”

Louis: Lou’s smile is more gentle than rueful as he briefly places a paternalistic hand atop Vinny’s.

“I’m not calling for the canonization of St. Vincenzo.”

“But hearing you talk about the city, our city… she’s like our mother. She’s old now. More than a little bitter, broken, and tired too. But you sometimes get glimpses that remind you of when she was young and beautiful. Full of life and vitality. A freshness that isn’t innocence, but can feel like it to a kid. She’s never been innocent, no mother is, really, save the Virgin Mary perhaps.”

“But it doesn’t matter that mom’s no Madonna. That she’s taken on some weight here and there. Scars. Wrinkles. Varicose veins running down arthritis-swollen legs. Bags under her eyes from burning the candle at both ends. Sure, sometimes she comes home sloshed, and there was that time or two or twenty when she cuffed you for sassing her or for forgetting to take out the trash.”

“She’s still your mom, and you love her. Because if you don’t, who will? You don’t have an old man looking out for her. He’s never been in the picture. She’s raised you all herself, all her own, trying to do her best.”

“And sometimes, her best just blows your breath away. Like the time she baked that sky-high birthday cake after you thought she had forgotten all about you. Or when she took you to the beach, let you collect a bucket full of shells, and didn’t complain a bit when you dragged all that sand into her carpet. Or that summer night, when the music wafted through the window, and she danced. Danced like she was the star at the Dewdrop, her laughter like warm rain. Or the time she held you after your first bad breakup. She let you cry. And then later, when you’d become a man, and came home hurting and broken after one too many ugly cases, she still held you like her little boy. And because you couldn’t or wouldn’t cry, she cried for you.”

“You love her, Vinny. You’re not blind to the mud, the ugly. You see it, you see her. All of her. And you still love her, still want to save her.”

“How could I not love that?”

“How could any man not want that in their son?”

“Or brother.”

“She’s my mother too, after all.”

GM: Vinny takes in Lou’s words slowly. Silently. Lets them wash over him like the rising dawn. Cold around the edges, but filled with an undeniable light and warmth.

“…you make me want to give my mom a call, Lou.”

“That was… something.”

“I think you coulda been a writer, if you’d wanted.”

“That was really something.”

He clears his throat. “I’m not good with words, not like that. So I’ll just say that was, that was really something.”

He rubs the back of his head. “I guess you’re right, though.”

“I do love her.”

Louis: Lou’s smile is more pained, but no less gentle as he responds, “I’ve just had longer to think about how to describe the tune that’s playing in both our hearts and heads.”

GM: “She’s been shitty, a few times, but like you say.”

“Only get one mom.”

“And she’s been good more times than not.”

Louis: The old man nods.

“And while mom’s always had a soft spot for writers and artists, she doesn’t really need more of them. She’s got enough sons and daughters doing that. Some making it big, some starving.”

“No, what she needs, always has, are kids willing to take out the trash. Because there’s a lot of it. Too much of it. She needs those who do what the badge claims. What every cop swears. To protect and serve.”

“And she needs protection, Vinny. Not just from the likes of Ricky and Delron or the pukes they’re supposed to be busting. Sure, they kick her, hit her, and shake her down for a whole lot more than milk money. But her blackest bruises don’t come from them. Her worst abusers have always been the same culprits.”

Lou dimes those culprits not with words, but with actions as he reaches into his trench and produces the stake. He offers that holy water-annointed spike like a reverse donation plate, a gesture asking Vinny to take rather than give. But it’s ultimately the same. Consecration. Offering. Sacrifice.

GM: Vinny nods at Lou’s first words. The call to protect and serve. The one they both answered.

The one not so different from the Vigil.

The younger detective gives a soft intake of breath at the offered stake and all it represents.

It’s not his first time receiving such an offering.

It’s not his first time seeing Lou torch a vampire.

He seems to briefly fumble for words. He looks between Lou’s face, the stake, and back at Lou.

“But. Zyers. The paintings…?”

Louis: Lou’s face is calm, like the eye of a hurricane.

“It’s all the same Vinny. I can explain more, but it’s all the same. Same mud. Just a difference of how far downstream you stand.”

GM: Vinny blinks.

Then he seems to process.

“Zyers. Is he… is he one of those…?”

Louis: “It’s worse, Vinny.”

GM: The other detective’s face sets.

“How?”

“Those paintings, Lou.”

“I fucking want them.”

“The artist, whoever’s behind them.”

Louis: His one hand keeps offering the stake.

“I know you do, and I’ll help in whatever way I can, no matter what you choose. But Vinny, you have to decide this first. Because it’s not about what we want.”

“It’s about what she needs.”

GM: Vinny looks back at the stake.

He looks at it for a while.

He doesn’t actually sweat, but Lou can see the signs. The way his breath gets shallower. How much more he blinks. The stiff, wooden look to his face.

Perhaps he’s re-thinking Lou’s last words.

She needs protection, Vinny.

Her worst abusers have always been the same culprits.

It’s all the same. Same mud.

Vinny looks at the stake some more.

Finally, slowly.

He reaches out a hand.

Grasps it around the handle.

And takes it.

Louis: Lou smiles. It even reaches his bourbon eyes. But it’s sad all the same. Proud. Grateful.

But sad all the same.

He looks like he might embrace Vinny, but the angles of the car are all wrong. So are the angles of the world.

The old man settles for a paternalistic squeeze of Vinny’s shoulder.

“I can’t say whether you made the best choice, kid.”

“But I know you made the right one.”

His smile remains. As does his sadness.

Particularly as his now-free hand reaches into his trench’s inner breast pocket and produces an old crinkled cigarette case. He flicks it open with his thumb, revealing one last cigarette. Untouched. Well, not untouched. It’s clear it’s been touched a lot. But unspent.

But the old man bypasses that coffin nail and uses his prosthetic hook to peel back the case’s lining, revealing a small, thin metal sheet. He stares at it for a moment as if regarding a ghost. Or perhaps he’s the ghost regarding it.

That’s when his smile finally breaks into a sigh. His next words are quiet like suppressor-shot bullets:

“Gettis.”

“He’s not.”

“Not dead.

“Not Gettis.”

“Not really.”

“Not anymore than I’m Louis Fontaine.”

He passes the object to Vinny, allowing the cop to look at it in the light. Light which reveals it as a century-plus old tintype. An antique photo of two men. Two cops. Arm in arm. Sharing twin smiles so fierce they dare no cloud cross their sunny day.

The details are a bit blurred by the tintype’s alchemy and age. The uniforms are well beyond outdated. So are the mustaches. So are the men.

Still, it doesn’t take a detective to identify the two men.

GM: “They gunned him down, Lou. Jeremy May gunned him down. A good cop gunned him down and got drummed off the force for…” Vinny starts, then tails off.

It doesn’t take a detective.

Anyone could tell they are the same men.

But they look different, too.

Maybe it’s some missed doses. Missed fixes. But they do look younger. Softer lines. Fewer lines. Kinder eyes. Fewer bags under those eyes. Fuller hair.

But some of it might not be aging. Some of it might just be hard living. Hard living from another century-plus carrying the Vigil’s torch. Some hunters burn out. Most hunters do burn out, eventually. But most get singed, too, before they do. Singed from carrying the fire so close for so long. It burns and blackens them. Ages them before their time.

Ages them even when they don’t age.

But not so much that one needs to be a detective to see past that aging.

One would think the photo shows two veteran cops early or mid-way through their respective careers. It’d be a perfectly believable photo.

If it looked taken twenty rather than 120+ years ago.

Vinny looks between Lou, the photo, and then Lou again. He frowns in consternation.

Then he holds up the photo to the light. Squints at it. Turns it over. Feels it between his fingers.

“This thing… doesn’t feel fake,” he says slowly.

He looks at Lou, brow furrowed.

“How? How is this is not fake?”

Louis: The old man closes his eyes, and rests his weary head against the seat.

“Because, kid, some truths are uglier than lies.”

He sighs.

“But that still doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tell them. So I’ll explain. I said I would.”

He opens his eyes, as if reflexively spotting Alejandra’s approach from the gas stop’s restroom.

“Next stop, after we drop off Lex. She shouldn’t have to bare the burden of those truths. Not here, not now, at least.”

He takes back the tintype and gently places it back in the cigarette pack and trench pocket.

GM: Lex looks like she’s already finished relieving herself, as she’s in the gas station’s adjacent convenience store. Lou sees her just as she exits with a water bottle, a bag of chips, another pack of cigarettes, and an annoyed look.

Empleado de gilipollas,” she mutters as she gets in, closing the door with more force than strictly necessary, then looks at Vinny. “Asshole clerk.”

“You want, I could sock him out for you,” the detective half-jokes.

“No. Wasn’t all his fault. They didn’t have the brand I like.”

“No Circinus.”

Louis: That confession both comforts and alarms the barely sober Ret. Det.

He can’t help but crank his eyes back to Lex’s pack.

Half of him prays it’s not another menthol. Half of him prays it is.

GM: She holds up a plainer-looking pack with a bigger warning label showing a hideous set of yellowed teeth with blackened gums.

WARNING: CIGARETTES CAUSE MOUTH DISEASE, reads the label.

It’s menthol.

“Wouldn’t have even bought this shit, but literally smoking vampiros always makes me smoke more,” she remarks sourly.

‘More’ is saying quite a lot for the always-smoking resident doctor.

Louis: Menthol, Lou silently notes. Thank the bloody archangels.

“Hey, Alejandra,” Lou says out loud. “Not to be a gilipollas myself, but could we leave that pack sealed till out next stop? Lottie told me she doesn’t like so much smoke in her ‘hair’.”

He points his prosthetic hook at the soft-top.

Puto dolor to get out, right Lottie?”

GM: The car rumbles beneath him.

Lex doesn’t look thrilled, but accedes with an, “All right, sure.”

“Cutting back doesn’t hurt anyway,” says Vinny.

“Mm,” says Lex.

Louis: Lou doesn’t reply. He knows the score. To Lex, you hurt either way. It’s just a matter of picking your pain.

Still, the old man doesn’t begrudge the rare break from the menthol fumes, nor the even rarer moment of accord between the doctor and green-eyed car.

Miracles never cease.


Saturday morning, 12 December 2015

GM: Waffle House is a Louisiana staple. The food might not be good for you, but it sure is good, and it’s just the thing after smoking a vampire during the still-early dawn. Vinny, Lou, and Lex get a booth to themselves and order like it’s the Last Supper, if one ate supper for breakfast fast food. The trademarked All-Star Special consists of bacon slices, eggs over easy, waffle with butter and syrup, toast, and another item Lex isn’t initially sure of from the menu. Vinny tells her it’s hash browns. Lex thought it was sausage. Vinny says they can order sausage too. Lex says they should order the hash brown bowls too. True to their name, they’re hash browns, bacon bits, scrambled eggs, and cheese all stirred in a bowl. Vinny says they shouldn’t leave out waffles. The “starter” ones they got “don’t count.” They order chocolate chip waffles. Pecan waffles, for Lou. Extra syrup. Syrup for the waffles. Syrup for eggs and sausages, which they order more of separately, for the syrup. Should they order anything else, too?

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No one orders for themselves. Everyone shares. Everyone eats some of whatever they feel like eating. Lex laughs about how bad this is for them. Vinny laughs too and says between a bite of biscuit,

“We all die anyway, don’t we? Let’s enjoy this for what it is.”

“For what it is,” repeats Lex, raising her coffee in toast.

Vinny raises his too. “For what it is.”

Louis: “For what is,” the old man says in similar salute, smile, and damn it if he can’t help it, a tear.


Saturday morning, 12 December 2015

GM: One substantial breakfast later, Lou and his younger two friends are stuffed and content. Vinny insists on footing the bill. Lex insists on splitting it. They eventually do. Neither of the two asks Lou to pay. Lex suggests they go on a walk to work off some of that breakfast. Vinny seems moderately amenable to the idea. He clearly wants to finish his earlier conversation with Lou.

He’s saved, though, when Lex checks the time, swears in Spanish, and says she needs to get in to work. Vinny says he’s not on shift today and has “some business” in Kenner, which Lou supposes is technically true.

Vinny offers to give her a lift back to Tulane Medical all the same, if Lou is amenable to another car ride before he catches his Greyhound.

Louis: “You kids go ahead,” the old man responds, massaging his truthfully sore hip but milking it a bit more than strictly necessary. “Long rides, even in a ride as fine as Miss Beauregard aggravate my sciatica.”

He gives Vinny a look. “Don’t worry about me. Might take a walk, catch a Little League game over in Larayo Park, or take a nap on the golf course.”

He winks at Alejandra as if to say he’s joking. Probably.

“But I’ll be here when you get back. I owe you some old cop stories and a whole lot more after that feast.”

The old man doesn’t take no for an answer, just like he doesn’t let them leave before giving Alejandra a fierce goodbye hug that attempts to convey the words he cannot.

Choking back tears, he gives Lottie B. a hushed admonishment to be nice…“the lady docto…”For Vinny’s sake."

The old man then departs, leaving the might-be lovers with the echoes of an old 18th century song by Palomino, Canción Picaresca.

“Mas como ya es hoy tarde,
lo haré mañana.”

(“But since it is already late today, I will do it tomorrow.”)

The old man sings it badly. But he sings it true all the same.

GM: Lex laughs. “At this hour you might get away with it. Besides. Who even plays golf anymore, anyway?”

“The superintendent does,” says Vinny. “Never had any patience for myself.”

“Me neither,” Lex concurs.

Vinny rubs his very full belly. “One of us might as well exercise this off, anyway. Catch you back around, Lou.”

Alejandra returns the hug just as fiercely.

“Take this the right way, Lou. You smell better. Look better. Everything you’ve been doing these past few months… keep it up, okay?”

Lottie B’s rumbled answer feels equivalent to Lex’s earlier “mm.”

Lou has around 40 minutes to exercise his joints. He can walk a short distance to reach a a more scenic route at Lafreniere Park, where he can walk or jog along the two-mile track to watch white ibises foraging for food in the bayou. The children’s playground sits vacant at this hour in the morning, but the Christmas lights are up and shining dimly against the mid-dawn sun. The place might be something to see at night.

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Louis: Sadly, the old man has another destination tonight. Far less wholesome or idyllic, but still a place he needs to see. In the meantime, thought, he soaks up the waking rays of the December sun. He works outs his cramped joints en route to Lafreniere Park, and then winds down to watch the ibises in the bayou. The bucolic sight carries his mind back to older times. Not necessarily better, or even simpler. Just older.

GM: The sun rises steadily overhead. It’s a moderate 50-something out; the coldest Louisiana often gets, before the daytime 70 high, but fortunately there’s no rain amidst the thick morning fog. Vinny meets Lou after he’s done several laps around the park. The younger detective looks at the long-beaked avians patiently stalking the water for fish.

“Weirdly graceful, aren’t they, with those slow walks?”

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Louis: The old man doesn’t initially turn, just nods.

“Yes, I suppose you could say that about the doctor’s legs, but I don’t think she’d take kindly to the ‘weirdly’ part.”

A slow smile cracks his lips, as he ruefully glances at the Black Hand-descended cop. “Oh, you were talking about the bec croche?”

GM: “There’s nothing weird about her legs, Lou,” Vinny smiles faintly back.

Louis: “Make sure you tell her that.”

A beat.

“Just not in Lottie’s earshot.”

GM: “’There’s nothing weird about your legs,’” Vinny repeats.

“Words to make any girl blush.”

Louis: The old man’s smile cracks into a guffaw. “Well, hell if I know what pickup lines get the juices flowing with your generation. About a year ago, I had this client try to repay me by setting up a… Tumblr, no Tinder account. Said she felt bad for me. That I was too lonely. Too sad. And that was coming from a ghost. She said something about life or love giving me ‘too many swipes left’. Not sure what the hell that means. Not sure I want to know.”

He chuckles again.

“But even an out of touch geezer like me can see you two have got it. The spark, chemistry, or whatever you kids call it now.”

GM: It’s Vinny’s turn to guffaw, and hard, as Lou brings up Tinder.

“Swipe left. It means, not interested. Show another possible match.”

“Thoughtful client, though.”

“Dead or not.”

Louis: Lou shrugs. But he waits, eyeing the younger cop to make it clear he noticed how Vinny is continuing to dodge the real subject at hand.

Then again, he might be dodging or delaying his own share of awkward topics.

GM: The mirth on Vinny’s face fades.

“Maybe. I know her family wouldn’t approve. I know Lottie wouldn’t approve.”

“And both of them can be fairly violent in expressing that.”

Louis: “Hmm, not sure whose’s wrath would be worse. Mexican Cartel or jealous teenager.”

GM: Vinny snorts a laugh.

“Yeah.”

“This was a good day for her, you know.”

“Only bled over the seat after Lex left.”

Louis: Lou nods. This time a bit more slowly like it might be an important crack in a long-cold case, put he has to mentally poke at it a bit to be sure.

“That’s… that’s really good to hear.”

At those words, he finally shifts to fully face his friend.

“Speaking of which…”

And that’s when he relates the conversation he just had with the Chevelle under Otis’ lodge carport. His offers. Her fears… but also hope. His hopes for her too, and fears. Ideas. When he finishes, he adds firmly but kindly:

“I think she’s ready. To at least try. Maybe more. And that’s more than she’s ever been. You did that, Vinny.”

“With kindness. Patience. Shared laughs, shared tears.”

“She was shit deep, just like you were in OPP. And you hauled her out, just like Ida did to you. I hope you see that, kid. I hope you believe it.”

“It’s up to her what she does with this second chance, but no matter what happens, what she chooses, it doesn’t change how you saved her and gave her that choice.”

GM: Vinny takes that in slowly.

“What she’s got, Lou.”

“It’s a… a half-life.”

“Isn’t something I’d want.”

“Who wants to be stuck to a car forever.”

“Not able to pig out at Waffle House, take a walk in the park, fuck a woman, hell, even take a dump.”

“Who’d want that.”

“Didn’t think there was much to do about it.”

“But if you think your friend can help… okay.”

“Guys rib me all the time for the pink coat anyway.”

Louis: Lou laughs. “I heard pink is the new red. Or maybe that’s just on Tinder.”

But behind the laughter are compassionate eyes.

Understanding.

GM: Vinny snorts another laugh.

“Isn’t in the NOPD.”

“But they do it less than they used to.”

“Joke’s gotten old.”

Louis: “I know a thing or two about that,” quips the old man. And just like that, he knows it’s time. No more dodging or delaying.

The laughter fades, and his face becomes serious, severe even. “You ready?”

GM: Vinny gives a grim nod.

An unsurprised nod.

They were going to circle back to this, sooner or later.

And he’s never let a ‘fake’ drop.

GM’s Note: This log is currently unfinished. Throwing it up because it may be a while before Sam’s player and I wrap it up in real life.

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