You catch the rat cop's beady little eye and it gets the unimaginative twinkle of an animal who thinks himself cunning. He nods a quick, well-practiced signal to his partner, another rat just as corrupt as the first. The rat cop comes over to see your offer. You're both men or rats of the world; you both know how to grease the wheels of justice.
His opening bid is a sawbuck, but you're really not as up on your noir slang as you should be, so you suggest a dollar. He nods his rodent-like rodent face. It's pudgy and soft from all the "gifts" from rat cheesemongers in need of special . . . "protection." You check your pockets and come up with nothing but scrabble tiles. It's a paltry sum. Just an A, C, D, L, E, and R. You think fast. Thinking fast is the difference between life and life up the river.
Some fast words and half-hidden hints of future favors help the "dollar" becomes a "D-O-L-L-E-R" and then you chat him down to half price. He splits the "L-E-R" with his partner and splits; you hold on to the "C-A-D". Because if you haven't got your friends, you haven't got anything at all.