September heat was cruel in New York. The air, heavy with what felt like a thousand percent humidity, kept pressing on one's body from each and every direction, weighing them down and suffocating them at the same time. It felt even worse in alleyways between the high rises, as if after sopping up the dirt of the city and its dwellers, the imprisoned air couldn't escape to the sky and instead let itself go heavy on the ground, sulking down with disappointment. Especially around the garbage area Samuel felt like he was paddling through some toxic, sticky mud. Together with the nauseating smell rising from the garbage thanks to the heat, cleaning the alley had become a fucking torture session.
It seemed as if the garbage truck hadn't collected anything at all, but had spread the shit around then driven over them a few times and then left. The ground was filled with mashed fruits, fast-food leftovers; and unidentifiable sticky mush that looked like it was barfed up by a slime monster. Their combined odor left a greasy residue in the back of his throat that Samuel couldn't stop tasting; acidic, sulphurous and rotten. And, there were newspapers... Pages and pages of newspapers... some sticking to the ground, some to the trash, some -defying the totally still air and gravity- managing to fly around.
One of those flying pages stuck to Samuel's leg, provoking him to do something crazy like punching his leg with the paper picker. The picture on it was more provocative than his annoyance though, forcing Samuel to straighten the page out to read the story:
“**Rafael Barba named Chief of the Trial Division** DA Jack McCoy appointed Rafael Barba to the long vacant Executive ADA position. Mr Barba was a victim of a gruesome attack a few months back by the ex-felons he had previously convicted. Prominently, a former NYPD officer Samuel West and Alex Muñoz. Muñoz was a front runner of New York City mayor race until charged with solicitation of a minor…”
Fucking Barba! Samuel’s heart started beating at his temples. The bastard looked real fucking good in the picture too; dressed prettily and smiling to the cameras. Like a cat, not only with nine lives, he apparently also managed to land on his fucking feet. Samuel picked the paper up even closer to examine the grainy picture. To find something, anything which would show him that this was a front Barba was putting for the crowds, that he was miserable inside, crying himself to sleep every night… He couldn't find it. Not even a fucking trace from his fucking surgeries and Samuel knew the guy had been through plenty of those. It was a fucking miracle that Barba was actually walking after everything, let alone smiling devilishly to the reporters, like he was the second coming... Wearing suits that probably cost thousands of dollars while Samuel was cleaning the back alleys of supermarkets to earn a few bucks to fill his belly… He tore the paper to pieces, pushing his fingers through Barba's fucking smile.
It was partly Muñoz's fault. The guy had folded like a cheap Ikea chair as soon as he had gotten caught. He pleaded guilty behind closed doors and there was no news of what had really happened in that fucking apartment. Only his court ordered public apology made it to the news, for wrongfully attacking Barba’s name through all means of media when he had been accused of solicitation. Samuel was looking forward to the juicy details of Muñoz trial. The newspapers would have loved it. Two childhood friends turning fucking bloody enemies… intrigue, betrayal, sex... Everything a “breaking news” story needed. But Muñoz hadn't gone for it. Not even his allucation had been public. Instead, Muñoz the Judas and his association with BX9 had become all the rage on the local channels.
Maybe Samuel should do what Muñoz wasn't man enough to do. Wouldn't it be poetic justice if he forced Barba through a trial. Let him taste his own bitter medicine, making him suffer through the exhibition of his dirty laundry in each and every media outlet. Now that he had apparently become a Chief Kiss-ass, the press would even be more ecstatic to learn everything.
Also, Samuel had enough of cleaning this city's shit!