Saturday night is alright for an interlude.
The time was now two in the morning and many of the remaining customers were quick on their feet to unpack the bar. Don greeted them all out the door, “Alright, Harold. Take care, Irvin. Woah! Watch out for that last step, Tom. C'mon c'mon c'mon, Bruiser. There ya go!" One man by the name of 'King' asked the bartender while looking at Cobretti, "Ya gonna have this guy perform every Saturday night?" Don shrugged, "There's a chance he might be interested." He looked to the musician cop, "What'd ya think, Cobretti?! Might give these guys a show next week?!" Cobretti also shrugged, "Just happened to be in the neighborhood." King smiled, "That's some good blues chops fer a guy who just walked in. Keep it up. Anyway, see ya Don." the bartender grinned, "See ya soon, King."
As everyone left the building, Don closed the entrance door and locked it.
"... King eh?"
"Don't get too excited. No relation to BB or Albert. He's just a manager runnin a blues lounge from the other side of town. Thinkin he needs more performers."
"Guess he be likin my guitar playin eh?"
"It's good. Not gonna lie but..."
"Gotta do somethin about your singin."
"... that bad?"
"Could be better."
"Guess it didn't matter none to the patrons though, right?"
"I think they were too drunk to notice."
They both let out a laugh.
Don wiped his eye and patted Cobretti on the back, "It's nice to have some live music for a change. Maybe take the good ol' King some advice."
Cobretti grinned, "I'll take that into consideration."
"Or you could walk on over to his lounge. It's not my style but the guy knows his way around the music business. Probably could give you a record deal one day."
"That I might not take."
"Might be too glamorous for someone like you. Not a good idea."
They walked toward the counter.
"What made you waltz on back into this place anyhow? It's been too long since I've heard from yah." Don then noticed Cobretti's stone-faced look turned into a frown. He looked at the bartender and replied. "It's a complicated mess... I've done too much harm to even want to come back."
“But here ya are.”
“Which still remains… why was a guy like you in prison for? I mean, I know things get hard in the long run but, never thought a policemen like yourself would get into the nitty gritty like this. Don’t worry: it’s confidential between us.” Cobretti looked towards the door, "Just double check to make sure everybody is out." Don nodded and looked around the dining area, then outside. Just to make sure no one was slumped on the side of the street and he closed the door and locked it up. He then motioned Cobretti to be seated in one of the bar stools. "Well... drink?" Cobretti nodded, though he had a bit too much already. What is one more anyway? Don went behind the counter and brought out a couple beers. Then he handed Cobretti a cigar, "Smoke?" Cobretti shook his head, "Nah. Don't smoke anymore. Quit a while back." Don then chuckled and asked, "Had anything to do with the matchstick you're chewin on?" Cobretti took it out and waved it, "It's a life saver."
Don laughed even louder and then started after taking a breath, "Anyhow. About that conversation... how'd it all started?" Cobretti took a slug of beer then replied, "I'll give ya the abridged version of it; wife left me, department let me down on some bogus bullshit, joined up a mercenary group that got caught up in the middle between our firing squad and the Chicago PD, been tried in two state courts that resulted in a death sentence but overturned to life instead, stayed in the Indiana prison for five years and now... this." Don looked down and gave a low whistle, "And here I thought ya were having a long personal vacation. But it looked more like a spiral, eh?" Cobretti took another sip of his beer and chuckled, "Take it from me who just fucked my life up." Don shook his head, "Nonononono... listen here. You said ya gotten yerself immunity, right? It's lookin like there's a reason for why you're back and for good reason too."
Cobretti sarcastically scoffed, "Yeah. Fer some asshole Mayor's re-election attempt." Don spat out his drink, "You mean that Thomas Scaffilia?!" The cop nodded, "It's some part of a deal where if he could get a guy like me to do the dirty work for the department and succeed within a year, I'm free. I think it's called The Redemption Act." Then Don looked at him with a single wide eye and asked, "Does you being back here have anything to do with the string of massacres being done by The Zombie Squad?"
"Bingo. At least what's left of 'em from what the sources told me."
"Was this the mercenary group you were a part in?"
"Yup. Only but a few ex policemen who want to get their hands dirty."
Cobretti finished off the bottle and continued, "I met 'em 'bout eight years ago. Solid group of 'em who felt the whole of the police department weren't doin any favors for the citizens of the city who had to pay taxes year after year that would get nothin but false justice. We had an abandoned underground bunker where we advocate various plans to put the law into our own hands. We get paid by the people who want their voices to be heard and to get that peace of mind where the regular cops couldn't give. But within a price."
"Well. We ain't a good bunch of people."
"Soundin like yous a buncha loan sharks."
"Worse than that, I'm afraid."
"Breakin people's legs but worse. Huh. How so?"
Cobretti stared off into the dark corner of the tavern and sighed, "Takin lives; either though our own members or the ones who ain't gonna cooperate. Most of the damage would be to execute others that are close to 'em. We's a strict bunch that go about our duties without conscious."
Don was shaken, "... did you... had to get orders to... kill them and their loved ones?"
"... I had to. Otherwise..."
"... they would've kill you too. Right?"
Cobretti shook his head and looked away from the bartender, "I've done fucked up and they's want me back to 'undo' the things I've done in the next year. Otherwise I'd be back in the slammer permanently. Second chance... how is this right? That ain't justice. It's business."
Don was dumbfounded. He just looked at him with sadness and grief, "Sorry I had to hear all this."
Cobretti stood up and grabbed his guitar case, "Yeah. Me too."
"But in the long run. I think you'll be doing the right thing for yourself."
Cobretti grabbed his leather jacket, "I'm hopin' yer right. Don't feel like it."
"The main thing is, Cobretti, is that you ain't gonna be throwin' your life away no more. This is a silver lining. Even if it's gonna play out well for that slimeball mayor."
"I appreciate your sentiment, Don." He smiled a little while putting on his jacket.
"You gotta place to stay?"
"Yeah. Some rundown motel that's a block away from here."
"Ahhh! So you're close by. The uhh... MOONLIT MOTEL, right?"
"Well, you be careful out in the snow. Freezing cold out." Don pointed at the cat shaped thermostat, it was -2 degrees. "Before you say anything; the old lady wanted me to put it there to remind our loyal patrons to bundle up. Surprisingly, that gives me tips."
Cobretti had a smile and chuckled, "She's still lookin out fer ya. Anywho. It's great to see ya still here, Don. And I wouldn't blame ya if ya didn't wanna see my mug again."
"You kiddin? You rocked this joint and got my whole tavern boppin! You're always free to come back anytime, friend." they hugged and shook hands as Cobretti departs out in the snow.
"Remember when I said our conversation was confidential? I mean it. Not gonna tell a soul."
"Thanks again, Don."
"No worries. And Cobretti?"
He looked back.
"Give 'em Hell! Show 'em what us ex cops are capable of!"
Cobretti nodded and headed off.