"Why do they call you Eight Fingers?" Walton asked, puffing away on his pipe. His eyes were directed right at the ratty man sitting on the chair on the opposite side of his desk, although they didn't seem to be looking at him or anything in particular. Occasionally he would run a hand through his greasy, graying hair or tap his beard clad chin with his pipe, as if in thought.
"Is that a joke?" Rat asked. He had both his hands held nervously in his lap, missing a pinky and a ring finger on his left hand. That might just explain his nickname, Walton might assume. But he never assumed. He listened, and then he verified. He couldn't afford assumptions as a homicide detective in London's police department.
"Aye, almost as funny as having to knock you down a digit to seven," Walton said rather dangerously, although he certainly didn't look dangerous. He looked like an old man. A fit old man, to be sure, with muscles built over decades of hard work and labor, but still an old man.
"Look! I don't know nothing! And you got no proof!" Rat yelled, standing up and slamming his hands on the desk. He winced slightly, although he tried to hide it quickly. Walton picked that up quickly.
Probably from his right hand. Poor beggar couldn't even afford prosthetics. He sighed, blowing a puff of smoke at Rat and waving him, and the smell, away. Rat managed a smug look as he left, slamming the office door open as he did. He was soon replaced by a much younger, and well dressed, woman.
"I take it he didn't know anything about the murders?" The young woman asked, raising an eyebrow at Walton. He managed a shrug, inhaling and exhaling more smoke before he decided to talk.
"If you work in the less savory parts of London, and dabble in certain shady endeavors, who is most likely to know about said endeavors?"
"Yourself? The people you work for?"
"The beggars. Nobody pays them any mind, because to most people they are just a part of the surroundings. Like a spent fag on the cobblestones, or some trash in the alleyways," Walton said somberly. He knew his way around the streets, and he had plenty experience with them. Unlike this new partner of his. She was too young, too optimistic. He held back a sigh as he stood up and put on the jacket he had hung over the back of his chair, moving past the young woman.
She followed him out of the office and out of the police station, keeping quiet. Her name was Alice, which Walton always chuckled about for some reason, and she had been working with Walton for a month. That was long enough to know his moods and that he was a crotchety old geezer at the best of times. It was long enough to also know that if she needed to know something, that he would tell her. Or at least give her a hint. If he didn't, then it was best to keep quiet until he talked.
They walked in silence as he navigated through the streets, seeming to not follow any particular route. She didn't even realize they had been following that rat-like man, Eight Fingers she believed, until she heard his scratchy voice.
Walton held out a hand to motion for her to stop. He signaled for her to look around the corner of the building they had been walking by, which she did. She could make out Eight Fingers and some other man, wearing a dark jacket that he had pulled up enough to cover his face. They were talking in soft murmurs, making it impossible to make out what they were saying. She wondered if Walton could hear them. Rumor at the station was that he had some of those fancy automaton parts in him, although she didn't pay much mind to rumors.
"Well I'll be. I think we have found a clue," Walton said quietly, barely loud enough to be even a whisper. They continued to wait there until Alice heard the man leave, and who she assumed to be Eight Fingers walking back their way. Walton's body tensed, his arm shooting forward like a gunshot right as Eight Fingers walked by them, slamming into his throat. He was pushed back by Walton into the wall across from them, gasping for breath.
"You're a dirty liar, Eight, and I don't tolerate liars."