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13th Precinct: Issue Six
Bob Yosco

I felt more than guilty, I felt like an outright bum. It’s going to take years, if ever, for the town to recover from 9/11and beauracracies do what they usually do when things hit the fan; worst things first and it soon became clear that Boyd’s death and the question of my sanity were quickly being buried under the mountain of more important news. Still looking for what was under the mess that those two planes did to downtown Manhattan, TV full of the chase for the towelhead coward, a new Mayor, deals for two new baseball stadiums, and the usual lunacy that comes with life in the Big City.

And God help me but I was glad inside, glad that there was a smokescreen for me to hide behind because it was going to take some time for me to forget and get my life back to normal. Sure, the Lieutenant still gave me that find-the-squirrel stare when he thought I wasn’t looking but there were bigger fish to fry than one Detective Third Grade and his imaginary friends. Boyd was wasted by a guy hundreds of year’s dead but didn’t really die, not all the way because he had a little help from an old friend that may or may not be someone out of a Wes Craven flick. My not-so-dead partner then shows up and takes me on a chase to find his killers but all hell opens its doors to the public and we get booted bigtime out of never-never land. He disappears, but his old pal drops by and helps me out of the mess at that Tattoo Parlor, and have I mentioned yet that my girlfriend left me? Not for good, at least that’s what she says, but being around me for the holidays wasn’t something I’d wish on anyone so I understand. Yeah, I understand.

"Line three, Johnny."

I snapped out of the self-pity doldrums and didn’t even try to hide my amazement that Sam Langley had put down his racing form long enough to answer the phone.

"Give a name?" I asked, knowing of course that good old Lang would never pass along a call unless he identified the person on the line. Strict policy, signs all over the place to remind the rooks that every last caller should be identified.

"Nah. Some broad. Doesn’t sound half bad." He answered, and for the hundredth time I wondered why the Department thought it was so funny pairing me off with one dinosaur after another.

"Detective Hamilton, ma’am, can I have your name?" I asked after punching my line up.

"I recall your asking me to call you Johnny." The feminine voice said from her end. Couldn’t forget that voice. Soft but strong; clear and kind of sexy if you didn’t mind chatting with a sixty-plus gal who looked young enough to be Drew Barrymore’s slightly older sister.

"That I did, Jessica, nice to hear from you." I lied. "So how’s life uptown?"

"Getting back to normal, Johnny. Of course you know that a great many of the better restaurants nearly had to shut their doors for a time, and being so thoroughly spoiled it only added to my anger over the recent untidiness. And actually that’s why I am calling, to invite you to dinner. Care to lend your arm to an old lady this evening?"

A not so nice thought flashed through my head along with the same chill I caught every time I spoke to her, but Jessica Hatch didn’t remember my digits just because all of the City’s top notch Walkers were busy. No, this was one lady that wouldn’t need to hire a professional escort and she sure as hell could do better than me, so what could be up?

"Well, I’m off around six but I’d need to scoot home to change." My fault for not bothering to wear a suit jacket today. Tons of paperwork and my down coat over a shirt and tie was good enough for desk duty but dollars to doughnuts she wasn’t talking about a visit to the Golden Arches here.

"Oh that gives us plenty of time." She answered and I swore I could hear the click of a lighter in the background and that made me think because there hadn’t been one ashtray in her house the last time I’d stopped by, and not even the whiff of cigarette smoke. "I’ve taken the liberty of reserving a table for us at Moray’s and my car can get you there long before eight’ish."

Eight’ish. Woman with her money probably called one of the swankier restaurants in the whole City and reserved a table for half the night just so she wouldn’t have to rush. I told her that would be fine, and could feel her smile all the way from her penthouse that you could have fit three of my little apartments in and had room left over for a decent enough racquetball court.

Moray’s. A chauffer-driven ride to the best steak place in town. Might not be a bad deal after all.

* * *

"So you see, Johnny, when all is said and done Vic and I agree that you’re the perfect individual to take up Boyd’s fallen mantle, so to speak."

I didn’t think I was going to like the venison, but she insisted I try it. Gamy dearmeat is gamy dear meat I don’t care if you call it tenderloin and swim it in enough French-sounding sauces to sink the Titanic all over again, but the new head chef at Moray’s turned out to be a Bobby Flay kind of guy and the dish was as good as filet mignon. But my stomach went rancid the more I listened to Jessica and her unbelievable story.

"Look Ms Hatch…Jessica…you’ve got the wrong guy." I responded as soon as my digestion would allow. "Boyd and guys like Boyd are what we call the Class of ’68, okay? Now don’t get me wrong, he was my partner and my friend but it was easy for his generation to swallow this kind of stuff. Call it leftover trips from all of the acid they did but today its computers and cell phones not Abbot and Costello meet the Wolfman’s baby sister. I only half believe what my own eyes saw and sure I want to find Boyd’s killers but it ends there. I went to college, I majored in criminal law…Jesus, Jessica, I minored in psych…and all I want to be is Detective First Grade and then when I’m too old for the streets get kicked up to Boss somewhere. No offense, but you and Vic should look again."

The gospel according to Hatch said that all kinds of supernatural-type things went on in the Apple, and on a regular basis no less. I sat through what started as a terrific meal and listened to her explain how Vic selected a local cop every now and then and hand in hand they’d keep the City clean of whatever spook was causing trouble. But even if this Vic guy was on the up and up, I didn’t want to spend my career playing Dr. Watson to some six hundred year old Sherlock Holmes with fangs. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why Boyd’s career never really took off. Smart, terrific worker, born detective, but he hit the wall at First Grade and never even took the Sergeants exam.

"Of course you have reservations, Johnny, that is to be expected. No one is forcing you into anything, all we ask is that you keep an open mind about the position being offered and if it simply is not for you then Vic and I will leave it at that."

About that time I was beginning to feel like an expensive date that caught a headache around payback time but was saved from stuttering any more when my cell started vibrating. Happy for the interruption, I excused myself and flipped the Nokia into life.

"Hamilton." I mumbled and was answered by the gravelly voice of yet another dinosaur, Vic Fleming who must have had a contest going with Sam to see who could log the most useless overtime.

"You heard right, kid," Vic said after I asked him to repeat the bad news, "Mayor what’s-his-face is already squeezing brass ones to get on this thing so the Boss asked me to call in the cavalry. Eight of them this time, Johnny."

The Jackson Heights Slasher had done it again; at least that’s what the original crime scene looked like. Beginning early last summer, and happening every third week or so, a frantic loved one or neighbor would dial 911 to report a grisly find. A perp or perps was ransacking apartments and leaving the tenants in little pieces. Nothing stolen, no visible signs of forced entry, just sliced and diced people. I told Vic that I’d be on my way ASAP, and broke the bad news to my dinner date.

"Quite understandable, Johnny." Jessica said as she sipped a glass of very expensive red wine. "Doctors and Detectives; ungodly hours come with the profession."

I added a smile to my nod and did a little fuss straightening my tie as I stood up from the table. I mean, this was new to me, did I shake her hand, kiss it, or was a hug and a peck the proper etiquette when a gal spends a couple hundred dollars giving you the feedbag? She settled the deal for me by offering a delicate, smooth hand in the usual handshake mode, and I was making a promise to keep in touch when she lowered the final boom.

"You wont find him by using normal police methods, Johnny. If this is who I believe it to be, then he’ll continue his unholy rampage for quite a time."

Gut shot. She couldn’t have overheard what Fleming had filled me in on, no way. My head was starting to spin with the possibilities but I wasn’t ready for another leap of faith so I thought to leave her with the first thing that popped into my head.

"You start smoking, Jessica?"

"No…" A small frown. "Why do you ask?"

"Ah nothing, just curious. Thanks again for the great meal."

She didn’t answer, just replaced the little frown with her usual half-smile, and I left. Shouldn’t be too hard to catch a cab. I could have asked Vic to send somebody for me but the ribbing I’d get from being picked up near such a swanky place would bring my name back to the Lieutenant’s ears and it wouldn’t have been a low profile thing to do. Eight people hacked to pieces. Eight more to the list and Jessica tried to bait me with some info on the perp, but like I’ve said, I wasn’t ready to go back into B-Movieville so I left without listening.

Had to be just some nut, and we’d catch the guy. Forensics would finally get a handle on some DNA that shouldn’t be there…Latent would lift a good print…or maybe even the fiber guys would nail down a way to collar this skell.

Normal police work. No boogeyman.

God I hope so.

[ END ]

©2002 Bob Yosco



Bob Yosco - Once again, Bob Yosco takes us on a tour of the strange streets of 13th Precinct...

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