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Righteous Scum

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Steve Rogers looked around the room, a confused expression on his face. Not that there was much to see, the walls were grey, the floor concrete. Other than the beat up old metal table, a waste basket and two chairs no furniture was present to keep his attention.

The door opened and a police officer entered, his face a study in careful neutrality. The middle aged man took the chair on the other side of the table. “Mr. Rogers.”

“Officer Smith, you don’t know the whole story. I have to talk to Toni first, and after she’ll come to her senses she’ll tell you that this was all a big misunderstanding.”

The officer opened the file he had brought with him and took out a few print outs and placed them in front of the blond man. They showed the beaten up face of a brunette woman. “This does not look like a misunderstanding.”

Rogers stared at the pictures and then licked over his lower lip before averting his face. “She was the one who went berserk and hit me first for no good reason, took the mace she always had in her purse and tried to bash in Bucky’s face! She was going to kill my friend, I had to defend us and make sure Toni couldn’t harm us.”

Smith carefully placed more pictures, this time of a discolored torso, the breasts barely hidden under a surgical cloth.

“The main target seems to be the center of the chest, the wounds are more prominent there. You knew that your wife had open heart surgery a few years ago and that her ribcage and lungs were still compromised. We found a pocket watch on the scene, the shape matches the bruises and our forensic department concluded that the watch was used to make the hits more solid. Do you need me to read the inscription on the inside of the lid?” A picture of the watch was added to the display.

“Howard, her father, he gave me that watch. Before I ever met Toni, he was called in frequently when they couldn’t solve a problem with one of the machines. He treated me like a son, he was a good guy.”

Smith sighed and leaned back in his chair. “And you used that gift to nearly beat his daughter to death.”

“They never got on well anyways. Toni is irrational when it comes to a lot of things, one of them Howard. The things she accuses him of- “ Rogers racked his fingers through his hair and winced. “I love her, don’t get me wrong, but she can be a handful and never listens to reason. I always have to keep her in line, she can be very headstrong. She must have been such a difficult child.”

The officer stared at him for a long time.

“Keep her in line. How?”

“She needs me to tell her when she is wrong or going too far. Toni tends to not think things through and should consult with me before getting herself into trouble. The stories I could tell you! She’s a great mechanic - well, people ask specifically for her when their cars need repair or upgrades. But she doesn’t understand that sometimes you shouldn’t take a customer because they aren’t good people or that some customers should be served first. Howard founded the shop and left it to her as his legacy and she’s just as good if not better than him when it comes to machines but she didn’t inherit all of his morals and good nature.”

A second file was placed on the table and the officer hesitated. The name Antonia Eloise Stark was scribbled on top in faded ink. Instead of opening the file Smith rested his right hand on top.

“You ever beat her before?”

“No! And I didn’t beat her yesterday, I defended myself.” Rogers shouted, an affronted frown on his face.

“Are you aware that the alley where this-“ he gestured at the pictures. “happened has video surveillance? Let me recap the evening for you. At ten minutes to midnight you, Mr. Barnes and someone we couldn’t identify yet, exited ‘Siberia’, a pub, through the backdoor. You were already arguing with the third man about something when your wife, Mrs. Rogers, stormed out, saw Barnes, got angry, backed up a bit and reached into her purse,  and then confronted you about consorting with a known criminal.”

“But Bucky wasn’t responsible for those deaths. He got drugged and went on a rampage against his will when he was on leave. It was the drug’s fault, not Bucky’s and the police insisted that he was dangerous and would have shot him if I hadn’t stood up for him, that was only right! They wanted to scapegoat him.”

“There is an arrest warrant out for Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes, not a kill on sight order.” Smith softly corrected.

Rogers shook his head desperately. “Those stupid performance pills the Army docs shoved down his throat- He never should have volunteered for this project! If I had been there-“ He tried to get up from his chair, the handcuffs that were keeping him in place. The blond was trembling. “News said that he is considered a threat and that he’s irrational, which isn’t true at all, and that deadly force might be used to stop him. I know Bucky, he’s been my friend since childhood through thick and thin, we’ve been in the Army together and have each other’s back, always.”

The officer waited until he had calmed down. “Back to what happened according to the evidence. The third man laughed and told your wife that Barnes had been the one who murdered her parents, that it wasn’t a car accident at all; and she asked you if you knew about that, which you admitted.”

“I saw some files, before I was discharged for health reasons. Health reasons, bha. They didn’t like that I poked my nose into what went on with my friend. It wasn’t Bucky’s fault. The pills are causing amnesia and they imprisoned him! He escaped...”

“Amnesia, rage and severe illogical violent behavior.” Smith added. “You’re lucky that you weren’t dishonorably discharged for going against orders. I contacted your former CO for a character assessment and he told me that you were, I quote, always questioning the chain of command and an accident waiting to happen.” For the first time something like distaste showed on the man’s face. “I’d say he was right, something awful did happen. Your wife should have run away and contacted the authorities when she saw Barnes but I guess she didn’t expect her own husband siding with a criminal on the run. The third man, and I want his name and all the information you have on him, ran away and you and Mr Barnes, instead of calming her down from the shock she just received, beat that woman until she was lying on the floor and then you both walked away. You left her there, helpless, in November, at freezing temperatures, after smashing her cellphone, in an abandoned alley. She would have died if the bartender hadn’t come out for a smoke.”

“I- this, this isn’t what I wanted to happen! I was doing what was right by defending my friend!” Rogers hastily stacked the photos and turned them upside down.

“You are scum. Your army file might be filled with praise for heroics and comments about your stubborn nature both but I’ll tell you what I see when I look at you: someone who is so blinded by his own belief that he knows best that he ignores the law, someone who has to put others down when they aren’t doing and thinking what he considers good and right and someone who is unable to solve problems without violence.” He took the old file, his fingers stroking over the faded script on top.

“I’ve seen it so often, abused kids falling into the same fucked up relationship pattern childhood taught them, ending with a partner that treats them like dirt because that’s all they know. Thank god I’m not the lawyer who has to defend you.  You haven’t once asked me how your victim is faring because somewhere not so deep down you think that she got what she deserved. All I hear is Bucky this and Bucky that. You didn’t apologize and you show no remorse. You aren’t a hero. You are a moronic abusive fucker and I hope that your wife will get far away from you and never has to set eyes on you again.”

The End