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A Polite Conversation

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"I can't tell ya what I don't know, mate." Hoxton resisted the urge to lean back in his chair. The scene was comically cliché and a small act of defiance would have been satisfying. Nonetheless, he recognized instinctually that acknowledging the pretense of this conversation wouldn't be in his best interests. The Bad Cop was already frustrated.

"Hoxton, please," the Good Cop, Officer Smythe as his nameplate stated, implored him. "If you give us something, anything, we might be able to cut you a deal."

"I'm tellin' ya everything I know, which is dick all." Hoxton shrugged and spread his hands much as the handcuffs would allow.

"Who is Chains?" demanded the Bad Cop.

"Ya answered your own question there, mate. Chains is Chains."

"And what do you know about him?" the Bad Cop asked, prodding him in the chest with a lumpy sausage finger.

"He's black. The cops spring stiffies at when they shoot at him. Other than that? Nothing."

"You think this is funny, you limey piece of shit?" Bad Cop snarled, getting right up in Hoxton's face. He felt a couple flecks of spit hit him when Bad Cop said "piece".

"Not especially," he replied, using his shoulder to wipe his chin off. "But you're tryin' to squeeze blood from a stone, mate. Chains ain't exactly my best friend forever. We just work together and he ain't too chatty." This was true, more or less. Hoxton really didn't know much about Chains. He did know that he was ex-military and that he could get chatty, especially when it came to subduing civilians. But that certainly seemed to be unimportant information to these two. It would have been a waste of their time to tell them that kind of superfluous data.

The Good Cop finally interjected.

"What about Bain?" he asked.

"You ever see Charlie's Angels?" Hoxton said. "He's Charlie. Don't know shit about him."

"He operates CRIMENET, correct?" Good Cop pressed.

"Ehhhh, I don't know about that," Hoxton hedged. Bad Cop was grinding his teeth at him, but waited. It was Good Cop's turn. "We've never met him in person. Far as I'm concerned, he's just a voice on the computer. Like the You've Got Mail guy or Stephen Hawking's wheelchair. Or that girl on Small Wonder."

Good Cop was losing his patience too now.

"Fine, what about Wolf? What can you tell us about him? The two of you seem pretty palsy on the surveillance tapes from the First World Bank."

Hoxton sighed.

"Look, we're basically co-workers. I don't know him outside of work. The whole Wolfy/Hoxie thing is just a work joke. Like when you tell Officer Moralez here that his dick was the best you ever rode and he says he can't wait to take you on another trip tonight. Ya not bein' serious, it's just a cute joke, understand?"

He had overstepped the unspoken bounds of the interrogation. He knew this as the words were coming out of his mouth, but it was a calculated fuck-up. He wanted to get off the subject of Wolf as expeditiously as possible. Unlike Chains, he knew quite a lot about Wolf. Not that he didn't trust himself not to give anything away, but the less time spent discussing him, the better.

Not that the punch in the jaw Bad Cop laid on him was any more welcome a topic. It knocked him clear out of his chair and he slid a few feet away from it for good measure. Hoxton lay there for a moment, dazed and dizzy.

"Pay attention, you little scrawny little maggot, because this is the last time you're gonna hear it," Bad Cop growled, grabbing him by the front of his orange jumpsuit. Hoxton lolled his head around a little, playing up the pain so Bad Cop would feel he had accomplished something. "You had better start talkin' or I'm gonna beat the English outta you."

It was almost clever, Hoxton thought. And then he thought better of actually saying so. Feeling it a safer course of action, he chose to remain silent. This was the wrong answer, apparently. Bad Cop punched him in the stomach and then threw him back into his chair.

Hoxton wheezed and, hunched over the table, tried to compose himself. Both Good and Bad Cop let him. Finally, he felt okay to speak again.

"Ain't this a mite unconstitutional?" he asked.

"You don't have any rights," Bad Cop spat. "Rights are for law-abiding Americans, not thieving, cop-killing pieces of Eurotrash!"

Hoxton resented that. He had not grown up nearly privileged enough to qualify as Eurotrash. But at the moment, he didn't have enough breath to argue the point. Instead, he put on a pathetic, subjugated look and fixed it on the Good Cop. It was never fun playing weak and beaten, but they were still playing his game, not theirs.

"Look, I don't know anything. The operation was all very Reservoir Dogs. Chains? Wolf? You might as well ask me who Mr. Blonde or Mr. Pink is."

Good Cop sighed and started gathering up his papers.

"Hoxton, please reconsider being so obstinate. We're trying to work with you here."

Hoxton frowned a little and looked away, trying to appear as if he felt guilty for wasting Good Cop's time. Bad Cop had no patience for his shit, however. He clamped a vice of a hand around Hoxton's upper arm, yanking him back out of the chair.

"'Ey 'ey, easy now. It's gonna be hard enough trying to explain how I got a busted jaw just from a polite conversation," Hoxton admonished him.

"As far as anyone's ever gonna know, Roscoe finally got a punch in before his weekly ass-beating."

Hoxton snorted.

"Who's going to believe that?" he chuckled, albeit without the full mirth he'd usually apply to the idea. "I'm 28 and 0 on that cocksucker."