Mild-Mannered Reporter

It’s all a matter of legwork.

He files records requests, traces ownerships and chains of command, ambushes mid-level managers with a camera and a press pass, tails dealers with his camera hung discreetly at his side. He gets 10,000 words out of it, and there’s a wave of arrests that follow. There’s some talk he might be up for a Pulitzer; this is the third year in a row an article of his has shaken up the metropolitan underworld.

They set his place on fire while he’s asleep, for all the good it does. He walks out through the flames and puts his fist through the window of the car the hit squad is camped in. It’s a rare, glorious moment, the kind he never allows himself, and he savors the terror and the wonder written on their faces. This naked man, this burnished god licked clean by fire, glass and metal crumpled in his fists.

He follows after them lazily, 200 or so feet up, until they dump the car and go to ground. He makes a note of which warehouse they went into, and reminds himself to see what the City Clerk has on it in the morning.

Back at the apartment, the fire department wraps him in a blanket while he gives his report to the police. They want to take him to the hospital for observation, but the detective has a quiet word with the EMTs.

“Sorry about that, Clark,” he says. “New crew.”

“It’s okay,” Kent says. “Just doing their job.”