Pairings/Characters: Melvin Purvis
Fandom: Public Enemies
Spoilers: For the movie, natch. :)
Summary: Melvin Purvis is a man of honor…but is he losing that honor in the hunt for John Dillinger?
Date Of Completion: July 18, 2009
Date Of Posting: July 18, 2009
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Universal does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 945
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Melvin Purvis was a methodical man. His office was arranged so that his desk faced his door and afforded him a good view of downtown Chicago through the window. His filing cabinet was tucked away in a corner, all neatly arranged by his secretary, and his desk held a blotter, a stack of files in one corner, a paperweight from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition that his mother had picked up when her family had visited the fair, a wooden pencil cup with his pens and pencils, and a black telephone.
He ran his hand over the wood, preferring it to steel. He was very much an advocate of the modern, but sometimes the old-fashioned worked just fine.
He sipped his Earl Grey tea. Back home, people called such a drink ‘high-handed’ or ‘hi-falutin’’.
He simply called it tea.
He looked down at the file folder opened in front of him, studying the notes on John Dillinger. This was only one of several files, filling the entire top drawer of the cabinet.
He could hear the muted sounds of the squadroom outside the closed door, phones ringing and muffled voices, occasionally a burst of laughter.
A hot breeze blew in through the window screen, the noises of traffic from the street below drifting upward. A horn honked, piercing the humid July air.
Melvin rubbed his forehead. His jacket was slung over his chair, his shirt sleeves rolled up. He was glad that he had chosen the white suit today. Growing up in the heat-smothering South, he had learned that light colors were best worn in the summer.
He turned a page, reading the report for the dozenth time since he’d written it.
J. Edgar Hoover had given him an important job to do for the Bureau of Investigation. John Dillinger was Public Enemy No. 1, and if he captured him…
There had been many failures, costly ones. He thought of young, inexperienced agents slaughtered by wily gangsters, and veterans like Carter Baum gunned down.
His hand trembled slightly as he turned another page.
He knew that he was ambitious. He could have stayed in his father’s law firm, done well for himself, maybe even moved from Charlotte to Atlanta and gone into politics or become a judge but he had been attracted to J. Edgar Hoover’s progressive thinking about law enforcement methodology.
He sipped his tea. Southern grace and gentility was a fine background for a gentleman, but modern law enforcement required scientific methods: fingerprinting, ballistics, forensics…it was what the Bureau was all about.
The tea soothed his throat. It had been scratchy lately. He hoped that he wasn’t getting a summer cold. They were always a bitch.
Yes, ambitious. He’d been handed a plum job by Hoover, and the pressure was building to get results, especially after Dillinger had been captured by his men…and escaped.
And then there had been the shoot-out at the Little Bohemia Hunting Lodge, with Dillinger escaping again. Melvin’s fingers curled tightly around his teacup’s handle, pain shooting up his wrist.
If only he could stop hearing the screams of a man whose brain was swelling while one of his agents browbeat him for information and a doctor pleaded to be allowed to treat his patient, except that he, G-Man Melvin Purvis, threatened the medical man with arrest if he interfered.
Why should he care about some thug who would have killed him, his agent, and the doctor if he got the chance?
He lifted the teacup, which shook slightly.
And what of Billie Frechette?
A pit of ice formed in his stomach. It was one thing to hit a woman who held a gun or knife on you, but handcuffed to a chair while one of his men brutally beat her?
She’s the girlfriend of a killer. She could tell us where John Dillinger is.
Except that she didn’t, and had been beaten so badly that she couldn’t get out of her chair once the handcuff had been removed. His own secretary had strongly disapproved of such ‘interrogation methods’, and the rest of the squad had been silent, shame spilling over them all. He hadn’t been in the building or known about the interrogation until it had gone on for hours, but that was no excuse. These were his men.
Why should he care about Billie Frechette, who knowingly ran with a killer?
But he had picked her up from her chair and carried her to the ladies’ room, where his secretary had helped her.
And now he had blackmailed Anna Sage, the madam who knew John Dillinger very well, threatening her with deportation back to Romania if she didn’t contact the Squad with information as to where Gentleman Johnny would be.
He set down the teacup and rubbed between his eyes.
He could see John Dillinger’s face in that Miami jail, hear his words that maybe Melvin should seek out another occupation.
He stared down at his teacup.
Maybe all this wasn’t his cup of tea after all.
A horn honked from down in the street and he rose, putting on his jacket. He needed to get out of this office, even if only for ten minutes. A breath of fresh air was what he needed, sultry or not.
He opened the door, the noise of the squadroom washing over him, and he began to walk out after saying he was going out for a quick break.
The phone rang as he passed his secretary’s desk.
“Mr. Purvis!” He turned. “Anna Sage.”
Heart pounding, he took the handset and listened to the Romanian tell him where John Dillinger would be that night.
This time, Johnny Dillinger would not escape.
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