Marty gets more than he bargained for when he reports a problem to the police.
“You have nothing to worry about,” the detective said as he taped the tiny microphone to Marty’s chest. “We’ll be right outside the whole time. If things go sideways, all you have to do is say the code phrase and we’ll bust in there to pull you out.”
“Let the light in,” Marty said.
“Yup, that’s the one,” the detective’s partner replied. “Remember, though, it’ll take us about sixty seconds to gear up and get in there. Do yourself a favor and try to work it into a conversation naturally. If you start randomly yelling at yourself they’re gonna figure something’s up before we even have a chance to get in there.”
Marty swallowed hard. “Good point.”
He still wasn’t sure he wanted to go through with this. Informing on Paul and his crew had been bad enough but now they wanted an actual confession on tape?
Marty didn’t want to be a hero. He didn’t want to be famous, or get his name in the papers, or get a key to the city from the mayor for his instrumental role in taking down a dangerous gang. He was just a local kid who was tired of these thugs making his friends and neighbors feel unsafe in their own community.
“All set,” the detective said.
Looking down, Marty checked the detective’s work securing the microphone. FInding it satisfactory, he pulled on his shirt and inspected it to make sure nothing gave away the recording equipment he was about to smuggle into a room full of gangbangers.
After a tech check confirmed that the wire was transmitting, the detectives opened the back door of the panel. Marty stepped out into the chilly night air. He made his way to the alley entrance, looked both ways, and then crossed the street to the condemned warehouse that Paul and his guys used as their base of operations.
The side door of the warehouse was wide open, with loud music and friendly shouting coming from somewhere deeper inside the building. The closer he got to the gang, the more apprehensive he felt. It’s not like he was in the gang; would they be pissed off that he showed up here, out of the blue? Sure, they had approached him a few times about joining up, but he hadn’t accepted and now he was walking straight into their lair.
When Marty finally emerged from the empty warehouse space into a surprisingly well-appointed loft-style living space, the shouting and horseplay stopped. All eyes in the room were on him. Finally, one of the guys killed the music.
“What do you think you’re doing here, yo?” Paul asked him.
Marty could feel his armpits start to sweat and prayed that his nervousness wouldn’t cause the tape holding the microphone to come loose.
“I-I was thinking about what you said,” Marty replied. “About joining your crew. And I had a few questions, so I figured I’d come ask them myself.”
Paul smirked. “Not a lot of guys would have the balls to just walk in here. I like that.”
“I just want to make sure I’m not getting in over my head,” Marty said, trying to be as smooth as possible. “I don’t want to end up in jail or something.”
The guys all exchanged looks and then burst out laughing.
“We don’t exactly bake cookies and hold charity drives, bro.”
“So what kind of stuff do you guys do?”
Paul stepped in close. “We take back what’s ours. We make sure everyone around here knows that we run things.”
Marty swallowed hard. “Run what things? Drugs?”
“Maybe,” Paul said. “You interested in drugs?”
“Not personally,” Marty replied. “But, uh, I know some people who I could sell to... if, um, if you have something worth selling to them.”
“I’ll tell you what,” Paul said, the smirk returning to his face. “Come see me tomorrow and I’ll give you a little something. If you can find a buyer, bring the money back here and see how you did. If you did good, we’ll talk more.”
“S-Sure,” Marty said. “Sounds good.”
A long moment passed as they just stared at one another. Where were the cops? He had Paul on tape! Shouldn’t they be busting in right about now?
“You need somethin’ else, Marty?”
“Nah, man. I was just looking at your pad. You know what would be sweet? If you put in a big skylight and brightened things up. It’d really let the light in.”
Paul stared at Marty for a moment then burst out laughing.
“You crack me up, man. Yeah, sure, we’ll take that under advisement. Now get outta here. Come back tomorrow and I’ll hook you up.”
Marty waited a few moments, long enough to count to sixty. After a minute there were no cops. Just a bunch of gangbangers looking at him and wondering if he was a little slow. Marty nodded and left the warehouse.
He crossed the street again and, once he was sure no one was looking, headed to the detectives’ panel van. He banged on the back door and the detective opened it for him.
“What the hell?” Marty demanded. “I got them on tape. I said that stupid code phrase. Where were you guys?”
“You did great, Marty! The fact that they trust you enough to set you up to deal tomorrow is fantastic!”
“Did you hear what I just said?”
“We knew you weren’t in any danger. We were listening to every word and it seemed fine; we didn’t wanna blow your cover.”
The detective looked at Marty. “What you got us tonight is a good, sure. It’s a start. But we need something big. You to stay under for a while so we can nail this guys on some really big stuff.”
Suddenly, Marty understood why nobody in his neighborhood ever went to the cops for help. Report a problem, volunteer to be part of the solution.
Originally written for the "The Writer's Cramp" and "I Write in 2018" .
Prompt: Write a story that includes the line: “Let the light in.”