TV shows are an important element in Max Payne 2, particularly to Max himself. They establish and influence his state of mind, and interestingly, are sometimes products of the man himself. (Well, not Lords and Ladies, but 8D)This fic explores the origins of Dick Justice, the '70's ghetto cop that's a parody off Max Payne. My basis is from a little snippet you can hear in the game as a conversation prompt with a bum. He informs Max that Dick Justice was based on a real case that happened in the area, and had a lot of research done into it, talking to ex-cons and the like.So this fic gets into the heads of the people that created the show. Enjoy!
Bergstein spotted the newest addition to the office as soon as he pushed open the small diner's door. A bloody swath of late summer sunlight bathed one side of Joseph Brent's youthful face, a scowl of concentration etched around his eyes and mouth. He scuffed over, feeling the stress of the day announcing itself in the small of his back and behind his eyes.
He was glad it was Brent he was meeting- he had worked with the young man on several other projects. Not all of them had been successful, but Brent had a rare combination of persistence and exuberance that was hard to find in their business. Not to mention a sense of humor that helped diffuse most work related tensions. Bergstein couldn't entirely stifle a smile as he sat at Brent table, rapping lightly on the wood. "Whaddya got?"
"Hunh?" Brent looked up, recognized Bergstein, and grinned. "No shitting around from you. Okay, well, you know how crimes shows are getting hot nowadays. I figure we could score over a few million viewers by the pilot."
"I thought criminal shows were hot- not crime shows. And what the hell are you talking about, anyway? I'm missing half the details. You know, the important ones."
"Oh, come on. Anyway, this'll be just different enough to snag people's attention. Fact is, I'm doin' it, and you can come along if you want to. 'Sides, who could resist ghetto noir?"
A long laugh. "Ghetto noir? Oh, Jesus, you're serious. This thing'll shit can before you get halfway through the first season. But hey," he held his hands up as if surrendering. "Far be it from me to stop you from following your crazy ass dreams. Just where did you get this idea anyway?"
"See, that's just it- this is flawless, 'cause I'm actually basing it off a real case! I can't run out of material, the whole thing's just so goddamn crazy that it'll score great. Reality's stranger than fiction, and we can cut down on production time because we won't be wringing our hands trying to figure out what to do for the next episode. It's already written for us!"
A long beat, accompanied by a look of skepticism. "A real case."
"Mm, yeah." He lowered the coffee cup, wiping his mouth of a film of light brown liquid. "Was in the papers about 5 years back. It was real big for a few days there- there was this huge manhunt and everything, and then bam- it just sunk out of media view." He lifted his hands, as if trying to bring this mystery to the dingy light of the old fluorescent lamps above them. "Nobody knows what happened. And guess what else?"
"Nobody'll talk about it." Another trip to the coffee cup, and he resurfaced. "Nobody in the news business anyway. Which is why I'll be going down deep."
Bergstein threw himself back in his chair. "You gotta be kidding me. There's a media black out- an extended media black out, mind you- and you're going to be sticking your nose right where the sun don't shine. Are you crazy?"
"No, no!" He waved his hands in the air excitedly, as if trying to delay the shitstorm he sensed in the air. "No, because it's not like I'm doing a documentary or trying to get into top secret stuff or anything! All I want is to talk to the guys who knew the guy who was involved with all this stuff."
A heavy sigh. Bergstein sat forward again, bringing his hands up to rub at the deep furrows in his brow. "Does 'this guy' have a name?"
"Yeah." Brent rifled through the papers in front of him, unearthing a sheet of typed paper from the scraps of hand written notes. "Max Payne. Neat name hunh?" He lifted his head, a juvenile grin plastered on his face. "Given what I could find out about what happened, I'd say it's as good a name as any."
"Okay. So what'll you call this series of yours? "Max Payne"?"
The grin got doofier. "Well, I was thinking about it. This guy is too good to be true, I'm tellin' ya."
"Well, you'll have to get permission from him to use his name. If you're going to be sticking your nose in his crap, might as well ask if he's good with it." A silence followed, the intensity of the initial conversation washing away, the sounds of traffic and the diner almost too apparent now. "What d'you know about his case?"
"Mmm." Brent made a speculative face, pulling his mouth to one side while he rolled his eyes to the other. "Well, he was a homicide cop-turned-narc-turned-homicide."
"So... what? Did he end up pissing off the wrong people?"
A short laugh, and he shuffled the papers. "By all accounts, he pissed off a lot of people, all the way from the mob to the NYPD. But that's not what started it all. I feel bad for the guy, it was really grisly." A note of sorrow had crept into the young man's voice, a shade of doubt. It was quickly swept away by the bright optimism he'd been previously infused with. "But that's what'll make it great- I'll be starting with his own motives. It's golden. See, his wife and baby were killed by some druggies all hopped up on that Valkyr crap. Remember the scare a few years back? It was all over the news. Anyway, apparently, he was the guy that brought it to light to begin with, because he found these guy in his house-"
"Don't tell me they raped her."
"-uh. No! No, no, no. No, not at all. They just killed the wife and kid."
"Kid? You said baby before, which was it?"
"Uh, baby. I don't think it was any more than a year old."
"Fuck. We're not going to be putting infanticide on network TV, we'll be crucified. Just stick with the wife."
"Whatever. Anyway, he gets back from work, just in enough time to be there when it happens. I'm kinda shady on the details, but that's why I'll be talking to the guys who worked the case. Maybe I can pull Payne's own statement. Holy shit, that would be amazing."
"Don't get too ahead of yourself. Christ, I'm glad you never wanted to be a lawyer- you'd be one of those ambulance chasing assholes."
"Yeah, yeah. Anyway, guy ups with the DEA to figure out the whole druggie angle. An' what does he find? This shit's been being trafficked for a while now, it's all over the underworld. after three years of chasing leads, his partner bites the big one in some train station, and he drops off the face of the planet for three days. And in those three days, about half of New York City's Cosa Nostra is wiped out. It's insane- he targets the Punchinello family."
"Yeah, no shit. Then after a little while, he drops out of sight, and then pops back up in Deputy Chief Jim Bravura's booking station around dawn of the third day. At first the media was all over that like a dog on a shit pile, but then it stopped. Complete info black out for half a day, before we get some scripted shit being reeling out on every station, detailing how Max Payne was a hero and single handedly stopped the Valkyr crisis. I mean, what the hell, right? How the fuck does that exactly happen? Guy goes ballistic, and then he gets slapped a medal and thrown back into the bowels of New York's finest."
Bergstein was quiet, a piercingly confused look scrawled across his face. "There's so many holes in that fucking story that Macy's parade could go through it."
Brent laughed. "Well, that's just the bare bones of it. I've got some more stuff floating around-" he patted the cherished clump of papers in front of him. "- and I've got some leads on who to talk to. Even if Kira Silverstein can't talk about it doesn't mean that Sgt. Joe Blow can't. I'm pretty sure the guys in blue didn't get the memo." He smiled devilishly, the prospect of a good project giving him a rare enthusiasm.
"Alright. So where are you going to start?" Bergstein toyed with his coffee cup, not meeting the younger man's eyes.
"Hm. I figure I'll head out tomorrow, after I get it sorted out in my head. Probably start with the responding officers to Payne's place. Talk to a few guys who new him during the DEA days." Brent stood, gathering the papers into a loose pile, hustling a few dollars from his pocket and onto the table. "I gotta head out. What do you say?"
A long silence, while Bergstein continued staring absently at the table. "It's been a long time since I worked something that wasn't going doomed to die a hideous death." He rose his head, met Brent's eyes. "I'm in."
Brent grinned, extended a hand around the papers that seemed to be trying to consume his torso. Bergstein smiled thinly, and clasped the younger man's hand. Brent hand was shaking- from adrenaline, exhaustion, or too much caffeine, Bergstein couldn't tell.
"I'll call you tomorrow." With that, Brent turned, juggling the papers as he headed for the door. The roar of the city swelled briefly as it opened and shut, the sound unsettling Bergstein more than he wanted to admit.
What the fuck was he getting himself into.