The following is a short piece about a character I’ve been working on for years. This writing features a central part of the setting of the story I eventually want to tie all this into. For more on the story/character, you can check it out here.
From above, it didn’t look like much. A small, southern city with a few large buildings, but nothing towering. If you flew over it, you wouldn’t think much of it. But, way down below you would be a complex city, with complex politics and even more complex citizens.
A dark van entered the city of Deltenbre from the west, winding through the streets. The city had the feel of your typical southern town. During the day, it seemed as though the typical, deep south humidity slowed everything to a crawl. Traffic moved about lazily, even on nights like this one. The police parked in parking lots by the main thoroughfares, but only rarely gave chase if someone sped by. The grocery stores were packed with a mix of people, all of whom just wanted to make it home in time for supper.
The city itself could be divided into five different districts. The center of the city was the home of the city government and its various agencies. It was also the home of the original Deltenbre, a French colony from early in the settlement of the United States. Buildings that had sprung up in this historic district were protected by the city government and a handful of wealthy residents who saw the buildings as their way of establishing their families’ legitimacy in the city.
The van avoided this historic district, choosing instead to drive around it.
To the south of the historic district was the primary residential district, though it itself was divided. Where the residential and historic districts met, the citizens were mostly middle class workers in city government, as well as though who worked in the nearby businesses. To the northeastern part of the residential district lived the blue collar families who worked in the neighboring warehouse district, while the more upper class residents lived in the northwest part of the residential district, which bordered the higher-end business district, known to locals as the “Diamond District.”
The northernmost district was primarily rural, still in the city limits, but far enough removed that the people there did not consider themselves citizens of Deltenbre. They were farmers, fishermen, and skill workers whose goods and services made their way into the city, and who were governed by a city they only dealt with on a professional basis (for the most part).
However, there was a hidden value in the city’s location, a value only tapped at night, and only by people who were not your ideal citizens. Deltenbre was on a crossroads of two major interstates, and it was not that long of a drive to any of the major cities along those busy roads.
One of those not-so-ideal citizens was sitting in the back of a dark van, which was weaving through the warehouse district. He stared out the window, eyes noticing the streetlights and the big storage buildings, but not really focused on anything. The driver of the van knew not to ask. His boss was a man who was prone to long bouts of thoughtfulness, and to disturb his thoughts was to make him irritable.
This not-so-ideal citizen, Dante Delacroix, was a well-known figure in the town. He was a businessman by trade, having inherited a factory his family had owned for generations. A few years back, he also opened a bar called “The Inferno,” because he was also a well-read man and loved the literature reference.
What made Delacroix not-so-ideal was the fact that he was one of the most powerful criminals in the state. No one in the city knew that, of course. At least, not yet.
The van carrying Delacroix was not headed to the factory tonight, nor was it headed to The Inferno. Instead, it pulled up in front of one of the warehouses in the district and stopped. Dante blinked and looked around, suddenly coming out of whatever thoughts he had been distracted by. He wordlessly patted the driver on the shoulder and got out of the van, headed to the read of the building, and, using an old key, let himself in. The van drove off as soon as Dante was out of sight, and the streets of the warehouse district stayed quiet for the evening.