The door to the Upside Down Head was heavy oak. Some part of my mind recoiled in perfunctory horror, but I pushed it back and down with the ease of long practice. I rapped on the door with the pommel of my sword. A narrow eye slot slid noisily open and two of the most rheumy, bloodshot eyes I have ever seen on a human squinted out at me.
“Copper,” I said.
“You’re no copper,” grunted Eyes with a voice that rumbled with phlegm so strongly I felt an urge to cough for him. The slot slid closed with a scratchy scrape.
I turned to my partner.”Your turn,” I told him.
He knocked. Politely, which surprised me. The eye slot slid open and the watery eyes inside swiveled as they sought the one who knocked. They latched on to me, standing a few feet away.
“You again,” muttered the human behind the eyes. He hawked and spat. It landed with a wet slap.
“Actually, no. This time, it was him.” I helpfully pointed downwards in the direction of my partner.
“Aye, cops. Cop business. Open up fer us cops,” bellowed my partner.
Eyes laughed, his eyes bulging unpleasantly in mirth.
“Fool guildhouse is further down the road.”
The slot scraped shut again. I was starting to lose the shine on my good mood, which, given our relative temperaments, meant that my partner was about to become tiresomely violent again.
“I can show you my badge,” I shouted through the door, when there was the splintering crunch of a heavy axe biting wood, followed by several more in quick succession. I reminded myself that the wood was already dead, and couldn’t feel itself being hacked apart.
“Tha’s better,” grunted my partner. “A li’l peep hole fer me ta sees ye back.”
Eyes jumped back as he found a new eye slot had suddenly appeared at his groin level. If he was a regional finalist in the bloodshot eyes stakes, my partner is a world champion. I sighed, imagining the paperwork this was going to require.
“Sorry about the door,” I told him. “If you fill out a Compensation for Property Destroyed in the Pursuit of Justice Form (663-C) down at the station within 2 hours, it’ll be evaluated by our claims department over the next six years and then the department will reject the claim and send us back to arrest you for filing fraudulent claims.”
“Aye,” confirmed my partner. “Et’s a nice door. Shame ’bout the hole.”
“Sir, we really are the police.” I proffered my badge, a leather wallet containing a hammered copper shield that has seen better days. Supposedly it was once engraved with the words “Songbird Wharf Police Department” and a relief of the city’s famous lighthouse. These days mine just says “So rd w ar lice partm“, and the lighthouse is just a somewhat phallic blob. At least I cleaned the corrosion off mine. I suspect my partner ate his.
The badge was given a rather distracted glance as my partner idly carved a rather obscene rune into the door with the point on the poll of his axe, then there was the sound of several heavy deadbolts being withdrawn and Eyes reluctantly opened the door, clearly as much stop the vandalism as to admit two legally empowered police officers. Sometimes my partner can be a useful little sociopath.
The rest of Eyes was as unsavoury to behold as his eyes and voice had suggested. We hustled past him, careful not to step in the slippery phlegm he’d coughed on to the floor, and stepped into the darkened interior of the pub. The murmur of the evening crowd subsided and come to an abrupt halt. One patron coughed softly, but he wasn’t a patch on Eyes the doorkeeper.
I guess they don’t see many of my partner’s kind in here. Or mine, for that matter. He’s a dwarf. I’m an elf. We fight crime.