Prose Header

Razor Burn

by O. J. Anderson

Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
appear in this issue.
Chapter 4

Berney Razor — a.k.a. “Razor Burn” — of the Special Crimes Unit of the Garden City Police Department, believes in a healthy diet: he makes his own fruit smoothies and bakes his own banana-flavored bran muffins. He also exercises healthily. However, he has not read the chapter titled “Moderation.” He has developed a physique of geographical proportions; he looms amply equipped to punch out the punks on the seamy side of Garden City. What can stand in the way of this law-enforcement juggernaut? We shall see...

Mayor Salvatore Manila stands on the steps of City Hall addressing a group of journalists. Three of his aides stand behind him.

“Mr. Mayor,” one of the reporters asks, “what, if anything, is currently being done about the city’s drug problem?”

The thick scrum of cameras, bodies, and foam-covered microphones bearing station logos collapses around the Mayor with the big, bright grin. The sun glints off his watch as he gesticulates his articulations.

Mayor Manila, all cuff-links and pinstripes and sticky hair, says, “That’s a great question, Stacey. I respect it. I really do. And I respect you for asking it. So, what is being done? Right. Well, first, we’ve recognized the problem you speak of. There is a drug problem in this city. No doubt about that. And we recognize that at the mayor’s office. We do. That’s the first step. Recognition. Once the problem is recognized, it is then addressed. That’s what we are currently doing. Addressing the problem.”

“Mr. Mayor...”

“Hold on there. Let me finish. We’re addressing the problem, that’s what we’re doing. Now, we have the world’s finest police department here in the Garden City and for that I think we are all grateful. And I intend to use them. That’s what they get paid for. They’re out there in full force, let me assure you. There is a problem and we are seeing to it.”

Another reporter asks, “Mr. Mayor, can you give us one specific example of what is being done to curb the city’s growing drug problem?”

“That’s a good one, Jim. Curb the city’s drug problem. I like that. Ahem! Absolutely. What we’re doing is concentrating our efforts on the demand side of the drug problem. It’s simple economics really. Cut off the demand. Treatment is the wave of the future. We’re going to treat the problem, not fight it.”

* * *

The Special Crimes Unit of the Garden City Police Department resides in a large gray cube behind the District Attorney’s office building, located between Nash and Frost Streets in a five-way intersection called the Intersection of Justice, where crime meets punishment.

Next to the DA’s office, moving clockwise, are the great granite steps and columns of City Hall, then the GCPD and GCFD, the courthouse, and the tinted glass structure that is the Bank of Garden City. Just beyond the outer perimeter of this hub of buildings at the heart of the city lies a zone of nearly a thousand lawyers of various firms, proclivities, and ethical boundaries. And beyond that zone of lawyers are several exorbitantly priced housing areas.

Everywhere else is the dumping ground.

The Special Crimes Unit offices are modern and stark. Razor walks through the cluster holding his bottle of purified water and a big bag of muffins. He enters the Chief’s office and notices the attractive woman sitting across from the Chief’s desk. She is in her mid-thirties with dark hair pulled into a ponytail. She wears a dark suit, the white collar of her blouse is exposed.

The woman stands as Razor enters.

The Chief says, “Razor, this is Doctor Kate Jenkins from the Walldalla Bureau of Investigation. She’s here to assist and support our investigation of the anomaly. Doctor Jenkins, this is—”

“Berney Razor,” she interrupts. “Better known as Razor Burn. You were the first patrolman promoted to the rank of Stud before the age of twenty-five, during which time you single-handedly made over six hundred arrests. You also managed to break up the Ramose Gang and put an end to a tribal civil war on the island of Uwua Uwua while on vacation. At this point your arrest record is purely hypothetical as the department’s hard drives can’t store that much information. You are currently the only Hero-ranked officer working in the city as, well, they just don’t need anyone else, do they? Did I miss anything?”

Razor holds up the bag. “Muffin?”

“All right,” the Chief says, “have a seat.”

“Anomaly?” Razor asks.

Dr. Jenkins responds instantly. “We’re calling it an anomaly. This one’s off the charts. There are no charts for this one.”

Chief Conrad tosses a file over to Razor. “Name’s Tod Curtis. Twenty-six years old. Been on the street a while now. He was brought in not too long ago on possession charges. Got a wife and kid over on Weller.”

Razor turns to Dr. Jenkins. “So why’s the bureau interested in a dead junky with a big head?”

“I’m not interested in him. I’m interested in what killed him. My job is to be aware of anomalies like this. And to make sure that we don’t have any more.”

“So you think this is something more than a dirty batch of zanobarbitol?”

“If I thought that’s all this is,” she says, “then I wouldn’t be here.”

Chief Conrad asks, “Meaning what?”

“Hard to say at this point. I’ll need to run more tests, but zanobarbitol is a pretty standard neurophetamine, even considering the variations. Shouldn’t cause these kinds of symptoms. Heart failure, brain melt, jumping off buildings... that sort of thing, yes. But not like this. Like I said, this one’s off the charts.”

Chief Conrad leans back in his chair. “Possible that this guy scored some rotten chow from a dumpster while he was already spun on a fistful of maggots that had been mixed up with carburetor or oven cleaner? They’re putting some wild ingredient into their maggots these days.”

“It’s possible.” She nods, but unconvincingly. “He was in such a degraded physical state to begin with that this could very well have been triggered by an extremely rare combination of things. If that’s what happened, then I’m on my way back to Walldalla. But that’s out best-case scenario.”

“And what’s the worst?” Razor asks.

Dr. Jenkins pauses a moment, scratches her nose. “Outbreak. We have an infectious disease on our hands. We’ll have to quarantine. The city falls into mass panic and total chaos. More chaos than even you can handle. Riots, plundering, there’ll be a crime spree like never before. And that’s just the beginning.”

Chief Conrad, never one to waste time sitting around, stands and says, “Okay. All right. Razor, I want to know everything there is to know about this Tod Curtis. I want to know where he bought his drugs, what he ate for lunch, and where he pissed. I want to know what his favorite color was and I want to know what was in the cardboard box that he slept in. I want to know his shoe size and his math grades in high school. I want to know everything. And Razor... I do not want to see any more anomalies on my streets.”

Proceed to chapter 5...

Copyright © 2006 by O. J. Anderson

Home Page