Station Detective-Sergeant Gilbert Pudget hurried along, desperate to catch up with the recently-promoted Station Detective-Inspector Alexander Nels. Seeing as the younger, arguably more successful man was a speed walker by nature, such a feat proved difficult, especially for an out of shape old man like Pudget. Still, however, the resilient sergeant refused to give up, for he was as stubborn as a mule.
Going on what Pudget could tell from the distance he was at, Nels seemed to be immersed in his own world, pacing along, presumably with a lollypop in his mouth to help control his low blood sugar. Nels typically appeared to Pudget to be a reserved, calm young man. He had not seen too much of the new inspector, but he seemed reluctant to let his emotions seize control of him. At least, he had seemed that way until…
Nels turned his head, as did Pudget, to that remark. The negative comment, directed at Nels, had been hurled out the window of a passing car. After a brief moment of waiting for the car to pass, Pudget watched Nels adjust his fedora, the colour of which matched his dark green coat. His body language was at that point expressing the anxiety he likely felt in that moment.
But a moment later, Pudget finally caught up with Nels. The inspector had his fedora tilted down as if to cover his face.
“Detective-Inspector.” Pudget said to announce his presence.
“Detective-Sergeant.” Nels responded with a deep exhale. Sure enough, there was a white lollypop stick protruding from his lips.
“I heard about your last case.”
Nels almost seemed to flinch with the change of subject, and he lowered his head a bit to the wind as to prevent his fedora from flying off.
“I just don’t see why everyone’s getting so hostile over it.”
“Pudget, I sentenced a boy to his death.”
“I sentenced an innocent boy to his death. I can’t believe they had the gall to keep me on the force, never mind promote me. What did I do to deserve a promotion? Commit murder?”
“Indirect murder.” Pudget corrected.
“I may as well have been the one to pull the lever. I’m the one who sent him there. I just wish I’d found out he was innocent sooner…”
Pudget turned his head and looked ahead. The truth of the situation was that Gilbert Pudget was a bit of a two-faced sergeant. Out of a vicious desire for a promotion, he had been the true crook behind Nels’ last case. However, even after setting the former sergeant up for failure, for an incorrect result and sequential murder of an innocent boy, still the younger man had received the promotion! As a result, Pudget found himself with only one option if he wanted to take “his” rank back.
He had to put another failure onto Nels’ shoulders.
“Why are you here, anyway?”
Nels’ words snapped Pudget out of his thoughts. “Hm?”
“Why are you following me right now?”
“Oh. I just wanted to make sure you were alright. I know how beastly people can get after an execution.”
“I’m… I’m fine.” There was a slight pause in that statement, leading Pudget to believe it was a lie. His belief was accented further when a dishevelled homeless man, taking along with him a rusty shopping cart filled with what Pudget figured to be garbage, began approaching them while seemingly trying to address Nels.
“’ey, you, in th’ hat.” The man grumbled drunkenly. Pudget noticed out of the corner of his eye that Nels, despite having a nervous look on his face, straightened his posture and puffed out his chest ever so slightly. However, he said nothing, refusing to communicate with the strange man in any way other than body language.
“Stupid hat. W’uld y’ gimme yer hat?” The rest of what the man said as he passed by, almost getting in Nels’ face as he did, was unintelligible gibberish that neither officer could understand. In fact, what Pudget had already heard was just a guess. For all he knew, the man could have been talking about something else entirely.
Once the drunkard with the shopping cart passed, Nels resumed slouching.
“Bloody drunk bastard. No wonder this town’s going to shit.” Pudget grumbled. The comment earned him a gaze from Nels, who glanced over with his soothing snowy blue eyes that contrasted deeply in tone his shoulder-length black hair.
Pudget looked at Nels. Their eyes met, and the eye contact was held for a few quiet seconds as they kept walking. “… What is it?”
“You don’t normally make eye contact with anyone, I hear.”
With that, Nels averted his eyes back toward the sidewalk. “Honestly, I kind of like it here in Catshill.”
“You can’t be serious. Here? It’s miserable here. I don’t know how anyone stands this god-awful place.”
“Then why don’t you leave?” Nels casually retaliated with his lollypop nearly smothering his words.
Realizing he had been caught in the midst of a lie, Pudget changed his tone. “I’m being sarcastic, Nels.”
From the look on his face, he could tell that this excuse didn’t sit well in Nels' head, but to his relief, the pale-skinned man didn’t say anything about it.
“How far are we from your destination?”
Nels slipped the white lollypop stick out of his mouth, having finished the candy, and put it in his left pocket. “Not far.”
“Will you be alright on your own?”
“Yes. I’m not too likely to get jumped on this street.”
“Hey, after whatever you’re doing here, come back to the station, would you?”
Nels turned toward Pudget again, but this time didn’t make eye contact. “Why?”
“I hear there’s a new client for you already. Some woman. She’s quite famous, apparently.”
“Is that so?” Nels replied with distaste thick in his soft voice.
“Will you take her case?”
Pudget couldn’t contain his smirk. “Atta boy.”
“Good afternoon, Detective-Sergeant.” With a lift of his hat, Nels turned around and started to walk.
“I will see you later, Detective-Inspector.” Turning around himself, Pudget added under his breath, “Whether you want to see me or not.”