Dober City

Rain fell through the smog that choked the streets, wetting the cracked concrete and weeks old garbage.

Folks ran for cover wishing to stay dry, not wanting the obnoxious drizzle to get on their clothes and belongings, little of which they had. Ears bent under heavy, dirty hats that had seen better days – the beggars huddled together underneath wooden trash shacks, passing bags of toilet wine and stolen hooch in an attempt to warm, or at the very least fill their empty bellies. Tires burned still under the dark rainfall, the smell managing to push through the wet air, dark smoke ascending to the sky like some kind of flock of detritus angels rejoining the swarthy clouds above. Handfuls of street urchins ran out to play in the mud, yelling and teasing one another. Their parents, for those that still had them, watched them through the shacks’ windows, making sure none of their neighbors attempted to approach them. A pack of them was chasing an older one, his hand gripping at a torn toy some luckier child threw away. Some of the more crass onlookers barked cheers and taunts at the racing fledglings, goading their ferocity and mock whooping whenever the distance between them would close only for the quarry to suddenly snap to a different direction, sending the younger ones to slip and fall, yelping and laughing, onto the ground. The game was fine as long as they didn’t try and get too close to the nearby river, bloated from the rain and rushing with the intensity of the urban leviathan it was.

A sudden flash of sick, yellow lights halted the activity in the slum. Rolling between the shacks, an expensive, black car slithered in. The rain battered it, only making its appearance more alien – tinted windows hid the occupants, the polished surface contrasted with the filth surrounding it, and its headlights stared at the river, creating a yellow pathway. A small runt attempted to run towards the vehicle for the small chance of receiving a pittance, only to be immediately grabbed by one of his older playmates. The older ones knew from experience what such an arrival meant – delaying the process in any way just invited more trouble.

The rear doors opened. Two smartly dressed suits stepped out, ignoring the people around them. Transparent raincoats shielded their clothes, shoe covers protecting their feet from the muck. Those that were close enough could see the blood trickling down their raincoats, being washed away by the rain into the mud. The two popped the trunk and dragged out a figure that moaned in pain with each pull. The poor soul was barely standing, blood trickling through open wounds and hands that lacked most of their fingers. He cried through a toothless mouth, trying to look around for help with his swollen eyes. He was shaking in the cold, dressed only in a pair of white boxers and a torn up undershirt, snotty nose sniffing the air for compassion. His two companions dragged him towards the river, one of them slipping a hand through his raincoat and into his pocket. The poor sod was finally brought to the river’s edge and forced to kneel down. In a swift motion, the suit pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter – he crouched next to the bloodied up figure, offering him a smoke without a word. The figure began silently begging, trying to upright himself, only to fall back into the mud below. In silence, his captor returned the items into his suit and stepped aside for his colleague. One, two… three explosions rang out, making some of the present children to cry out in surinprise. The figure on the ground had stopped moving. With a swift kick, the body disappeared into the water, shortly followed by a small, black, smoking item. No one tried to stop the two from going back to the car. As the first one entered, the second turned back towards the people around him. Everyone stared, waiting to see what would happen. Slipping momentarily into the car, he pulled out a small, brick-sized object wrapped in a shopping bag along with the bloodied raincoats. He threw the item and wardrobe onto the ground, away from the car and finally entered the vehicle. The beggars descended upon the bag, young and old alike, fighting over the hush money as the car slithered away. No one would say anything should officials arrive – if they wanted to ever receive a ‘donation’ again, that is.

In the car, the passengers sat in silence as they drove towards a less financially disadvantaged area of the city. The quiet was broken from time to time as the phone hummed out directions to the destination, or by the silent drumming of the ever-present rain. Soon enough, the surroundings changed around them – slums changed to apartment buildings and convenience stores, with silhouettes peeking through the closed windows. The buildings continued to transform to more luxurious and detailed forms, the flashing street lights gaining a regular rhythm as they left behind their broken brethren. Soon enough, they arrived at the gate of a humble manor house, warm light and laughter emanating from within. The pair left the car and rang at the door. Both of them held a black, inconspicuous umbrella, shielding them from the rain as they patiently waited for an answer. Their ears perked up as the gate rattled, and a small, fat house servant peeked through. He raised his head towards the two, locking eyes with them for a moment. He respectfully opened the gate fully, and allowed the pair in with a slight, if a bit shorter than usual, bow. He led them around the house, beneath the windows so no one may see the new visitors. They were welcome to the estate, but the other guests needed not to know that. Opening the cellar door entrance, the servant allowed them to enter and stand in the cold, but dry stone room. He sat them down at a wooden table as he went deeper into the home without a word.

It wasn’t long before she entered the room. The dame strode in, the servant staying behind, her heels click-click-clicking across the stone floor, with an admirable yet tasteful dress curling around her. Simple, but impossibly elegant jewelry framed the visage of the young madame as she stood next to the table, greeting the visitors with a graceful nod, her expression hidden behind a facade of courtesy. One of them took out a stack of photos, sliding them over to the lady. She furled through them, her neutral expression finally cracking into a slight, sadistic half-smile. She waved for her servant to enter as she took the pictures and placed them into an envelope – the hireling approached, setting a briefcase on the wooden table. With a wordless farewell, the two groups separated. The demoiselle returned to the bright lights of the party – food littered countless tables and overly dressed guests flooded around them. They laughed at anecdotes relating to their respective servants, discussed the wine that butlers carried throughout the floor, or simply gorged themselves on the surrounding delicacies like it was their last meal. The lady slipped back into the crowd, her absence unnoticed – only sneaking a small glance through the window to see the gate being closed once again.

Once the two suits returned to the car, they drove away into the city. Fumes wormed their way out of sewer grates, flashing neon signs harassed the few passers-by and dark metal and stone created deep shadows within the great city.

The rain continued to batter on, uncaring of the events it showered.

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