Saturday, April 15, 2017

I - Meet Quincy Rathbone

People were a complete mystery to Quincy (Quin or just simply Q to those too lazy to put forth the additional coordinated jaw and tongue effort to pronounce his name). A complete mystery he had no desire to solve at any stage of his life thus far. 

The people that occupied the offices of the second district courthouse in Everless were among the most mysterious, and least entertaining people Quincy had ever met. He watched them scurrying here and there, rushing against meaningless deadlines and steadfast bureaucracy. He sat on a long, wooden bench in the main hallway of the third floor--Criminal Licensing Department. 

Quincy glanced at the sign for the nine-hundred and forty-fifth time in his life and shook his head. Criminal licensing would be the distribution of a license to be a criminal, he thought to himself for the nine-hundred and forty-fourth time--he'd been interrupted once by someone asking him the time. Thinking about this, Quincy glanced up at the wall-mounted clock opposite the bench. 8:29 am.

The clock, like every other wall-mounted clock in every government building in every country in the known universe, emitted a perfectly unnerving buzz as the gearing system resisted the AC motor's best effort to spin the dials, giving in just enough to allow the accurate measurement of time. Quincy hated the clock. He hated the wall to which it was attached, the building to which that was attached, and --generally speaking--the species that built it all.

A blond woman in a suit-skirt walked passed Quincy and he noticed one of those plastic things used to keep price tags on was protruding from the pleat in the lower back of her jacket. If someone had observed the situation, and where it appeared Quincy was looking when the woman happened to glance back at him, they may not have been surprised by the woman's coy smile--some people are just, well, some people--but they would probably wonder when they saw Quincy glare at her with furrowed brow and shake his head disapprovingly.

"Criminal licensing would be the distribution of a license to be a criminal." Nine hundred and forty-five. 8:30 am.

Quincy stood up and walked a few feet down the hall just in time to see Jesse, an intern for the clerk, unlocking the door to the office. Jesse smiled uncomfortably and nodded to Quincy as he approached.

"Good morning, Mr. Rathbone," Jesse said nervously. Quincy noticed there were small flakes of plant material on Jesse's upper-left thigh. Quincy stopped and stared dead into Jesse's eyes for a moment.

"I suppose it is allergy season, but you should be more careful," Quincy stated. Jesse's eyes widened slightly and his eyebrows lifted minutely. Quincy slid through the doorway and continued, "don't worry, I'm not going to say anything to anyone. Hell, you'll probably never get caught if you keep wearing that god-awful cologne."

There were few people that irritated Quincy more than the front clerk of the Criminal Licensing Department. Lindsey was her name, and she felt about most of the people that stood on the other side of the counter much the same as Quincy did about her.

"Ah, good morning, Mr. Rathbone. I suppose you've managed to serve the mandatory six months security service required for your permit since last Wednesday?"

Lindsey was clearly accustomed to skipping formalities--Quincy almost appreciated that about her. He shook his head as if it were necessary to confirm the physically impossible had not actually happened.

"No. I don't see the point in wasting my time keeping drunks out of parking lots, or walking around the mall at night when there are more important things to do." Quincy reached into his coat for the nine-hundred and forty-fifth time to retrieve the previous day's newspaper. 

Inside the newspaper were sheets of notes Quincy had written solving crimes that had been reported within. Occasionally, he would also do the crossword. Lindsey sighed and took the newspaper.

"Please," Quincy started, but Lindsey cut him off.

"See that a detective gets this. Yes, I know. You do realize that I throw these away, right?" 

Quincy nodded.

"You've come in here every week for, what? How long?" Lindsey asked.

"One year, two months, three weeks," Quincy said.

"You could've finished the six months service by now. Why don't you just do that? What could you possibly be doing in that time that you couldn't do walking around the mall at night anyway?" Lindsey asked. 

It wasn't as if Quincy hadn't considered it, but he needed to go places and talk to people to figure out all the things going on in the city. Quincy had a secret he wouldn't disclose until he could work with the police directly. He didn't just solve the crimes in the paper, he tracked all of the crimes in the city--and sometimes the people most likely to commit them beforehand--and matched them up to the paper later. 

"It's a waste of time, and an insult to my intelligence."

"This is the real world, you have to follow the rules," Lindsey said as she plopped the newspaper in the trash can. Bold, Quincy thought. For the first few months, Lindsey would smile and say, "I'll see that someone looks at them." For another few months, she'd roll her eyes and say, "Sure I will." She was obviously implying that it wasn't happening but was still trying to be professional. Since then, she says, "You do realize I throw these away, right?" This was the first time she actually did it in front of him. He was beginning to suspect she was close to her last nerve. Maybe he'd back off a bit for a while. Maybe not.

"Tell every criminal in that paper to follow the rules," Quincy said as he turned and walked out. Lindsey shook her head and pulled the newspaper out of the trash can. 

"He's stubborn, you gotta give him that," Detective Warner said coming in from the rear door of the clerk's office. Lindsey nodded and handed him the newspaper. The courthouse had a secret, too. They'd been reading Quincy's notes since the first paper--he had accurately solved every single case. 

Since the papers didn't publish the more important ongoing investigations, most of the cases were petty crimes ranging from robberies to minor drug trafficking or car theft. Still, Quincy single-handedly cut the department's resource shortage in half by taking care of the work of five or more detectives whose time was better spent working on harder cases. The fact that Quincy refused to work as a security guard--and was too old to seriously consider going through the academy and ranks--only served to keep him working for Warner without actually having to pay him.

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