Cornelius Connor Cohen was one of the least and yet most remarkable men one could ever meet.
It had nothing to do with his looks, which were interesting, but hardly intriguing or remarkable. He cut a thin figure, all elbows and knees and points with a distinctly bony look, but tall as well. He didn't tower over most. He tended to slump too much for that. But it was clear, whenever he sat or stood, that he was above the average, perhaps around six feet or above. Not unusual, no. Nor was his long and untidy brown hair, hastily combed or his brown eyes, deep set under thick heavy brows. His face was thin, angular and small, and he resembled a bird with his long nose.
Still. It wasn't particularly a unique look. There wasn't anything special about it. It was interesting, but not anything to note as remarkable. Likewise, this carried over to his style of dress. A white t-shirt over a pair of old jeans and a pair of worn and indistinguishable sneakers to top off the ensemble—boring and perfectly average in every possible way.
There were some peculiar things about him, though. Like the way that he tended to trip over the things in front of him, or would look around before sheepishly pulling a pair of thick and scratched glasses out of his pocket to peer at something. He had a furtive, skittish appearance to him which would often make him skitter from place to place, glancing around to see if he'd been spotted. And then there was the way he spoke: a quick babble of words with odd syllables thrown in and an overreaching vocabulary that seemed both out of place but…fitting.
Yes, Cornelius Cohen, known as C to his friends, was an odd bird. And, as he approached the Sacramento police station, set in the middle of a busy and dirty street, he wondered if the oddities that seemed so obvious to him now would hinder him in his goals.
The answer, he reflected glumly, was probably a yes. He sighed, cast a fleeting gaze at the street behind him almost longingly, as if hoping that someone would drag him back to it, then gulped in the air and pushed through.
It was a bustling building. Cops walked back and forward, some dragging along a person in handcuffs, others talking on a phone or a radio, or yet others with pizza or donuts in hand. Most of them sent the intruding man a look before walking along. One even rolled his eyes and laughed as he passed. It made C shift uncomfortably and reflect back on the door behind him. He could leave. He could escape, flee, have a getaway…
But no. He was here for the twins. That was his purpose. That was his goal. So he jammed his hands into his pockets and propelled himself forward, ignoring the feeling that there were weights tied to his ankles. When he arrived at the front desk, the woman there didn't initially look up at him, but continued to work on filing papers and eating her lunch: a messy sandwich that seemed to be mostly made of tomatoes and mayonnaise. C stopped in front of the desk and stared in a certain horrified fascination, feeling a bit as if his feet were rooted to the floor as he watched as the fairly pretty and certainly not large woman lifted the whole greasy mess to her mouth—
C yanked himself out of his dazed state to find the woman staring at him from under finely plucked brows.
"Can I help you, sir?" she asked politely, in the tone of one who is quite sure that she can't and would appreciate it if you figured it out before she had to spell it out for you. C was beginning to feel his resolve, never strong to begin with, wavering. He opened his mouth, shut it, then closed his eyes and reminded himself of all the reasons to do this. Twins. Admiration. Honesty. Retribution.
"I would like to bring an issue to the police's attention," C said. He blurted it all out as if it was one word, eyes still tightly closed against the woman's incredulous expression. His heart was pounding in his thin chest cavity, and he felt faint. What if he fainted here, inside the police building, for no reason other than nerves? He didn't think he could take it. The last few weeks had been so hard…
Cautiously, carefully, one of C's eyelids opened, and then the other. The woman had set down the terrible sandwich and had picked up a file—thankfully, without greasy fingers. She hadn't noticed his embarrassing state. She hadn't seen anything. C felt himself breathing again.
"You just have to fill this information out," she continued, looking up at him and offering him the manila folder. After a brief moment of hesitation, C took it. "Name, address, crime you wish to report, the usual. We will be contacting you if anything comes through—but you should not expect…"
"Should not expect any leads, the police department is very busy and you have better things to do than deal with my concerns," C finished without thinking. It was said without bitterness—just a litany that he'd gotten from every government official he'd spoken to about any issue he could think of. It was like they simply couldn't think of an original speech. "Thanks for dropping by, now get the hell out so we can get back to whatever we're doing with your taxpayer dollars." Not that C cared what they were doing with his money. He was on welfare. He was grateful for whatever help they gave him…even if they did then tax it.
All right, that part had always puzzled him.
The woman didn't appreciate the fill in. The look she was giving him now was much more hostile than the one before, and C realized that a carefully cared for face could be just as frightening as an ugly one, if the woman was frustrated enough. Maybe even more so. He resisted the urge to shy away or shuffle back.
"No," she informed him coldly. He flinched at the ice in her voice. "That is not the case, sir. But the department is very busy—"
Well, he'd been right on that score at least…
"—and we do not have the time or the budget to follow every lead that comes through our door, especially if there is not substantial information to back it up. Now…" She retrieved a pen from her desk and rose to press it into his hand. "Why don't you go fill out the paperwork, and we can discuss your…concerns after?"
All considered, it was a fairly nice dismissal. C managed a weak smile, nodded, turned on his heel and headed over to the couch she had gestured to. After a glance around to see who was about to see him, he fetched a pair of glasses from his pocket and slid them onto his face before squinting down at the paper.
"Name," he muttered to himself, then grimaced and wrote down his name. He'd always hated it. Cornelius Connor Cohen. His parents had had a thing for the letter 'C'. All three of their children had possessed 'C' names. It wasn't that uncommon, but C wished his parents could have picked a different letter. As a child, C had been unable to recognize the fact that the "kuh" sound in front of all three of his names was not, in fact, made by a 'K'. it was illogical. As a result, he'd misspelled all three names with a 'K' and had earned the nickname of "K.K.K." by his preschool and kindergarten teachers, a traumatic experience no matter how old one is. Afterwards, the distaste for his name had never quite gone away, try as his parents might to convince him otherwise.
The rest of the information, however, went smoothly. Number…well, he could barely afford the phone bill, but he was managing, so he wrote it down without a qualm. Address, much the same, and so on down the list until, at last, he reached: information for the police.
He stared down at it, then quietly penciled in his answer, rose, and handed it to the lady behind the desk, who didn't even cast him a second glance. Then he sat down at the bench and waited.
It didn't take long. Within fifteen minutes, according to the exceedingly inaccurate clock on the wall, the woman from behind the desk had walked over to his side.
"Mr. Cohen?" She was giving him a look again, he noticed, but this wasn't the "you're using up my free time" one. This was the "oh, poor crazy man" look. He got it a lot. "The, uh, head of Special Investigations would like to talk to you."
"Yeah," C said, a bit distantly. "I deliberated she might."