The two Heathens stood on a corner outside the entrance to a small park. They looked about 19. One was much taller than the other, and the short guy had a mustache. They both had purple bandanas tied conspicuously on their arms.
“Good morning, gentlemen,” Bruno greeted them with a smile. “What a gorgeous morning to spend some time in the park, am I right?”
Neither guy said anything. They knew Bruno and Wally were cops.
“We ain’t gotta show you,” the short one replied with total attitude. Clearly, this young man had been dealing with a Napoleon complex his entire life.
Wally opened his mouth to contradict that statement, but Bruno quieted him with a quick shake of the head.
“Fine,” Wally shrugged. “I’m gonna call you Mustache, and you Ugly.”
The short one laughed, while the tall one glared, but remained silent.
“I know your instinct is to not talk to us because we’re cops, but we ain’t here to hassle you. We’re not from Gangs, Narco, or Organized Crime. We’re Homicide.”
“Even more reason not to talk,” Ugly growled. “You ain’t gonna pin no murder on us.”
Mustache crossed his arms defiantly and nodded in agreement.
“Like I said, we ain’t here for you,” Bruno assured them as he held up his phone to display Charlie White’s mugshot. “We’re after this dirt bag.”
“Now I know you’re trippin’,” Ugly challenged. “Charlie ain’t no murderer.”
Mustache nodded most emphatically in agreement.
Bruno smiled. “So you know Charlie White then. Excellent. We’re looking for him as part of our investigation. Either of you know where we can find him?”
“Do we look like 411?” Mustache demanded. “How should we know?”
Wally growled and took a step forward. Both Heathens took a step back.
“What’s his deal?” Ugly asked as he gave Wally a quick once over.
“He’s my muscle,” Bruno explained. “You guys don’t talk, he’s gonna take over the questioning, and as you can tell, he ain’t much for words.”
Wally gave his most intimidating glare, while Bruno did his best to hold back a smile.
“Charlie’s former landlord told us a coupla purple bandanas showed up at his old apartment recently with a real hard on for finding him. He owe you guys money? Maybe write a bad Yelp review about the quality of your product?”
Ugly looked confused, so Mustache replied to Bruno.
“Nothing like that. Charlie has something that Zeus wants back. Very bad.”
Bruno raised an eyebrow and gave Wally a look about this intriguing piece of information.
“Who’s Zeus?” Bruno wanted to know first.
“He’s the Head Heathen,” Ugly snapped like he couldn’t believe Bruno didn’t know.
Bruno laughed. “You guys are called The Heathens, but your boss is named after the Father of the Greek Gods? Talk about ironic…”
Both Heathens were getting pissed off now, which was exactly what Bruno wanted.
“Look, man, this is a gang, not a religion class,” Mustache growled. “Don’t be cutting down Zeus or the gang…”
“You threatening a police officer?” Wally asked and took another step forward, at which point Bruno put a hand to the rookie’s chest like he was holding him back.
“What does Charlie have that Zeus wants so bad?” Bruno pressed.
Ugly and Mustache looked at each other like they weren’t sure they should said anything else, like they hadn’t already gone way too far as it is.
“We ain’t leaving until you tell us everything,” Bruno cautioned. “And I know every minute we’re standing here is costing you business, which ain’t gonna please Zeus, who I’m guessing is already in a bad mood because of this thing with Charlie…”
“Charlie has Zeus’ bike,” Ugly blurted. “He loves that bike more than anything, and if he don’t get it back soon, he’s gonna go ballistic, yo.”
Mustache nodded his emphatic agreement.
But Bruno wasn’t buying it. “How does a junky, two bit burglar steal the motorcycle of the leader of one of this city’s most feared gangs? I call bullshit.”
Wally made a face like that was a total crock, while Bruno threw up his arms in disbelief.
“What the hell is this?” Bruno demanded. “Story time with The Heathens? I ain’t never heard such a stupid story in my life, and I been questioning lowlifes for years.”
Ugly took a step up like his friend’s honor had been called into question, and he was going to valiantly fight to avenge that disrespect.
“Charlie wasn’t always a junky and a thief,” Ugly explained. “Before he lost his shit, he was the best mechanic in the city. All us Heathens brought our rides to Charlie to work on. He could fix anything, and we trusted him. We kinda adopted him as an honorary member.”
“Yeah,” Mustache picked up the narrative. “Before he freaked out and quit his job, leaving us with no one to fix our wheels. Zeus didn’t trust no one else with his bike, though, so he set him up with a little space, made sure he had all the tools he needed, and all was good.”
“Until Charlie took off with the bike and no one’s seem him,” Ugly finished.
“When was this?” Bruno asked now that he had changed his mind about the tale.
Mustache shrugged. “Maybe a week and a half ago.”
“You gotta have a death wish to come between Zeus and his bike,” Ugly volunteered.
Bruno looked over to Wally. “You got a question?”
Wally opened his mouth to say something, but quickly shut it as he thought back to their previous conversation about the importance of that one question.
“You said something about Charlie losing his shit. What do you mean?”
Bruno nodded his approval of Wally’s question. Wally had to fight not to react to that praise because he had to look like a bad ass in front of The Heathens.
“He was always easygoing,” Mustache offered. “Fun to be around. He legit knew everything about engines, cars, bikes. Basically anything with wheels, and he could talk about it for hours. Then a few months ago, it was like he went all twisted.”
Ugly nodded and jumped in. “Out of the blue, he didn’t want to talk to no one. He threw us all out of the garage instead of letting us hang. He starting making mistakes on our rides. He’d disappear, and when he came back he looked rough. Then he just quits his job and walks away from the one thing he kicked ass at.”
Bruno nodded and let it all soak into his brain. So much new information.
“And now you said he killed someone?” Mustache asked. “That ain’t Charlie, man. Something ain’t right with him if he’s doing murder.”
“Where did he work before he quit?” Bruno finally asked.
“Big Tony’s. Down by the river. You know it?”
Bruno nodded. “Thank you for your time.”
Bruno turned to walk away, and Wally was right on his heels.
“If you find him, ask him where the bike is,” Ugly called after them. “Zeus is offering a huge reward, and maybe you can finally buy a decent suit.”
The two Heathens laughed at the lame joke.
“A man with a death wish certainly changes perspective on things,” Bruno stated the obvious. “You know something, kid, I’m starting not to mind that you lost this corpse…”
TO BE CONTINUED…