An Understated Dominance
by Marina Vittori
Nighttime, in the interrogation room of the police station.
Dustin and Dahlia sat with their backs against each other, bound to the chairs in the middle of the room.
The air in the room was cool and damp, and darkness shrouded them completely. They could feel an invisible weight on their shoulders.
“My bad, I didn’t mean to drag you into this mess,” Dustin spoke first.
“They claimed you stole some valuables. Is that true?” Dahlia asked, cutting to the chase.
“What do you think?”
“You don’t look that bold to me, so my guess is someone is trying to frame you. Does this have anything to do with the Cobra?”
“The Cobra is merely a pawn. The mastermind is none other than Duane Welch.”
“Duane Welch? Are you talking about Sir Anderson?” Dahlia was dumbstruck. “Weren’t you on fairly good terms with him before? Did you strike a nerve? How?”
“I punched him,” Dustin admitted flatly.
“What?” Dahlia choked, struggling to keep her calm, “You You dared hit Sir Anderson! Are you out of your mind?!”
Sir Anderson wasn’t just anyone–he was like a brother to Mr. Anderson. Not to mention being of the prominent Welch family of Millsburg! He was someone even the vicious, unyielding Cobra would kneel to. Yet Dustin dared place a hand on him, the epitome of digging one’s own grave!
“He hit me first. I only hit back in self–defense.” Dustin didn’t seem bothered in the slightest.
“Y–you act too rashly!” Dahlia fumed, “Who do you think Sir Anderson is? Do you think he’s someone you can afford to offend? One order from him is all it takes to wipe you off the face of the earth!”
“Since I’ve already offended him, there’s nothing else we can do than go with the flow,” Dustin said with a shrug.
“Easy for you to say, but do you think you can handle this?” Dahlia’s patience was running thin. She asserted, You better find an opening to call Natasha later. She’s the only one who can save you now!”
As the words left her tongue, she felt an acrid taste at the back of her throat. Although she wouldn’t admit it if she didn’t have to, there was no denying that there was no comparing herself to Natasha when it came to family background.
Suddenly, the metal door to the dark room creaked open, Interrupting their conversation. A man with a rotund beer belly appeared in the doorway and stepped into the room. He sat down on a chair and flicked the switch of the bright lamp on the desk. The glare from the lamp made the two detainees squeeze their eyes shut Instinctively.
“So, you’re Dustin Rhys or something.” hissed the fat man maliciously.
“Yes.” Dustin continued squinting until his eyes grew accustomed to the intense light.
“Do either of you know who I am?” the man asked.
“Then, allow me to introduce myself. I go by Gardner, the inspector here. I am nicknamed Heinous Hades by many!” The fat man lifted his chin with pride.
Dahlia’s heart dropped. Having spent a good chunk of her life mingling in this field, it was not her first time hearing that nickname. He was a man of barbarian cruelty, always baying for the blood of his next victim. Any offenders who fell into his hands could only pray for an outcome less than horrific.
They were in grave trouble this time around!
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Gardner. We’ve heard a lot about you.”
While Dahlia anticipated the worst, Dustin seemed relatively calm and breezy.
“Great! Given that you’ve heard of my name, I assume you’re familiar with my habits. I recommend that you learn your place and cooperate. That is your only hope of leaving here alive!”
The inspector lit a cigar, slid it between his teeth, and took a deep breath.
“Mr. Gardner, what do you need my cooperation for?” Dustin asked with a calm voice.
“The lot of you stole some valuable items, and the law can sentence you to prison. However, I am giving you the chance to straighten out the issue with the original owner. If we reach a mutual agreement, no charges will be pressed.”
“Mr. Gardner, you must be mistaken. I didn’t steal anything. The Panax root belongs to me,” Dustin rebutted politely.
“Hey! Kid! Are you sure you know what’s happening?” The fat man snorted. “Does it matter whether you stole it or not? Once you step foot in my territory, I make the rules. If I say you stole it, it means you stole it. Do you understand me?”
“Mr. Gardner, isn’t the way you’re approaching this case a little unreasonable?” Dustin’s eyebrows creasedvinto a frown.
“Unreasonable? Haha. My words could not be more reasonable!” snarled the fat man. A sinister smirk stretched across his face. “Now, you both have two options. One, to reach a deal with Sir Anderson. Or two, spend the rest of your lives in jail!”
“Can I choose neither?” Dustin asked.”
“Hey! I’m trying to engage in a peaceful discussion with you. You’d better be sensible and take the option, or else you won’t have it easy if you cross me!” Hostility flashed in his eyes.
“Are you trying to threaten me?”
“What if I am?” the inspector sneered. The cigar hung from his teeth as he continued with disdain, “I know you have some punch in you, but even superpowers won’t be useful in my territory! Besides, need I remind you that your gorgeous girlfriend will be very popular if she ends up in prison! Even if you could not care less about yourself, you should keep her in mind! That is, if you can bear watching as the other prisoners ravage such a delicate beauty!”
Dustin’s expression hardened. Murderous intent seeped from his eyes. “If you dare touch her, rest assured that nothing but death will await you!”
While his aggressive remark stunned Dahlia, she couldn’t help the warmth that filled her chest.
“Haha! You can barely stand up for yourself. And to think, you’re trying to threaten me! If you have brains in that head of yours, just hand over the Panax root and call it quits. Otherwise, you can’t blame me if I throw your beloved in prison! Give it some thought. You’ll have thirty minutes to think it through. I’ll be back with hopes of an affirmative answer.”