Precinct: Issue Nine
Reflections from a storefront window; momentary
images of sorrowful eyes accusing me from a shallow
pool of rainwater; a shadowy glimpse in the mirror
of something behind me as I shaved.
I wasnt losing my mind, they were real.
Whatever sense Boyd had awakened or instilled
in me had conjured up the fear, the anguish, and
the hatred that lingered from the souls of the
"The Chief of Ds gets a middle of
the night call from one of his pet reporters and
he doesnt like it, people. And when his
feathers get ruffled the wave from all that angst
can easily wash everybody away to cozy little
meter-reader jobs in Staten Island, so lets all
be on the same page
Johnny are you with me
"Sorry, Boss, guess a little tired."
I answered as the sound of my name brought me
back to the Lieutenants office. Id
been, hell, every detective in Manhattan had been
up through the night to brainstorm our next move
in the Slasher case. Bits and pieces of what evidence
we had, indicated that the perp might be from
Queens and the nine homicides last night added
a big punctuation mark to that supposition.
"Were all flying on fumes." Lieutenant
Haley said to the crowded room, his glare washing
over the other half-asleep cops in the small office.
"Ill be scheduling some off hours in
short shifts so everyone grabs a blow here and
there but we can all catch up on our beauty sleep
some other time. The Chief wants elbows on the
desks and heels on the concrete, people. All vacations
are cancelled, and dont even dream of using
any lost time until
Id heard it all before and let the drone
from Haleys speech drift into the back of
my mind as I went back to sorting through the
latest visitation from my dead partner. Chinatown,
hed told me. Chinatown and try the duck.
In the past Id always appreciated Boyds
propensity to get to the point but for once I
wish hed have been just a little more longwinded.
The MO didnt fit anyone from Chinatown;
certainly none of the usual suspects from this
Tong or that would be wasting time and energy
hacking people for no apparent reason. And out
of the fifty or more restaurants Id have
to plod through, how many featured duck, like
maybe all of them one way or the other?
"Thats it for now. I want every snitch
front and center, every favor owed to any of you
called in and called in bigtime. And Johnny,"
he added before I could slither out of the room
so as not to be paired with Sam or Vic, "team
up with Ryerson and talk to the desk sergeant.
Theres an old timer with a pigeon loft down
on Mulberry who keeps calling us to report things,
the Sarge will have his address."
"Things?" I asked. "What kind
of things, Boss?"
"No stone unturned, Johnny. The guy has
been leaving messages downstairs for two weeks
and they dont have to make sense. SOP from
now on is no stone unturned so get your asses
down to see him."
Florence Ryerson was even a newer kid on the
block than me, and I shut my mouth instead of
asking why two relative rookies were partnered.
The Lieutenant knew that Id have more tolerance
for a female cop and didnt want to chance
some reporter snapping a picture of one of the
old timers making a sour face while dragging around
some skirt with a badge just because affirmative
action said so. Dont believe what you see
on TV or in the movies; the wall of Blue in big
cities is still a fraternity, at least in the
minds of the guys who came up in what they considered
the hard way. Didnt bother me in the least
that Flo was a woman; hell, she could be an exchange
student from Pluto as long as the job got done,
but how was I supposed to partner up with anyone?
"Say Flo, wait here a minute while I go talk
to my dead partner, okay? Whats that Im
looking at? Nothing much, just chewing the fat
with one of my invisible friends."
* * *
"I didnt know Boyd very well, but
he seemed like a nice guy."
There...a sentence, an actual sentence. Wed
gotten the address from the desk and Id
driven eight or nine blocks before either of us
did more than grunt in the others general direction,
but thats how it is with new partners. And
have I mentioned that the house we were heading
for just happened to be in Chinatown and the elderly
gentleman in question had phoned the squad half
a dozen times to report strange things had been
disturbing his pigeons?
"Great guy and a good cop." I answered.
"Taught me a lot." I told her while
trying to fight back the queasiness that came
from something that could only be a lot more than
"Tough break the squad dropping his case
so fast. I mean, maybe its the wrong thing
to say but Id be furious if my partner were
killed and the investigation went sour because
of 9/11, and then these Slasher killings."
She was right and it was refreshing to hear someone
finally come out and admit the truth but she took
my silence as having picked at an exposed nerve.
"Ah hell, sorry Johnny. I guess I suck at
making friends and influencing
"Flo, to your right." I hastily interjected.
"End of the block, last rooftop."
She had been looking at me, trying to make amends
for an imagined slight and Id turned to
tell her it was okay when I caught a glimpse of
what looked like a very large man tossing another
man into the air.
"Got it!" She exclaimed before grabbing
the mike to call the squad. "15D-9 requests
backup at 226 Mulberry
I pulled to the curb, barely missing the hydrant
that had provided us the opportune parking and
we bolted up the front stoop.
"Supers apartment is usually first
floor in the back." I said as I quickly gave
up on trying to decipher the scribbles next to
the apartment numbers and began punching as many
call buttons as I could. "Ill head
to the roof but we might need a key so find him
"Be careful!" She shot back as someone
finally buzzed us in and I headed to the stairwell.
Careful. I didnt want careful I wanted
conflict. Something to vent the sluggishness,
the confusion and the frustration. I took the
stairs two and three at a time, happy to be young
and healthy and capable of sprinting six flights
without breaking a sweat. The higher I got it
seemed the air got fresher, more breathable somehow.
The blood sang in my ears and I sprang from step
to landing to step, faster, ever faster. I passed
the gleaming wet sign proclaiming the 5th Floor
and even the smell of fresh paint and thinner
was sweet, delicious, almost intoxicating. Six
floors, a turn to the left and the final banister
that lined the steps leading to the entrance to
the roof. Eight steps in two prodigious leaps
Locked. Metal, rusting at the edges but still
a formidable obstacle, I tried the door with my
shoulder and it gave a little but flexed back.
I kicked as hard as I could; once, twice, a third
time, and the ancient frame gave up the ghost.
The wonderfully clean air swirled in and the light
from the mid-morning sun invigorated me as if
my entire body had been a battery awaiting a much-needed
charge. Reflex took over and the Glock nestled
in my hand like an extension of my fingers. Cold
metal and plastic but my heart warmed to the touch
of it. I took a step forward to cross the threshold
and onto the roof
I backed away and turned to see Flo standing
at the bottom of the stairs. But had I ever really
seen her before? How could I have merely nodded
good-mornings and goodnights to this vision of
beauty? How could I have sat next to her and not
noticed the way her dark blue slacks hugged a
pair of long shapely legs like a second skin.
Oh she tried to de-emphasize her long auburn hair,
to arrange it up and behind her head the way that
beautiful women do to allow men the room to breathe
when confronted with such wonder. She tried to
wear those oversized blouses and loosely fitted
jackets to hide the swell of breasts
"Johnny?" She whispered again, and
how did I ever miss those full perfect lips
is he out there? Can
you see him?"
"Flo." It was l could say. There were
no words, no way to tell her how I felt except
the obvious. I had to touch her, feel her skin.
hell not taste, drink
Reflex. A blink of an eye from the offending
dust mote, a pause in ones step from a nearby
car horn, a grab for the baseball that arcs over
the fence and into the stands
I ducked and she fired. Boyd used to tell me
about Nam; about how sometimes the bullets were
so close you could swear you saw them or the shadows
of them whizzing by. Flo fired three more times
before I shook myself free from whatever power
had enthralled me and I squatted to turn to the
object of her target practice.
Whatever it was it filled the doorway. Picture
William The Refrigerator Perrys bigger,
uglier brother. Black as the night and with huge
bloodstained hands, it grabbed for me and I shot
it. Round after round pummeled the man but it
seemed like all we could do was to stagger him,
keep him off balance. I didnt think to back
away, my concentration on emptying a magazine
of 9mms into that broad chest was so intense,
and he let forth a piercing howl and grabbed onto
my shoulder. Flo had to stop firing and I tried
to eject the spent magazine but the thing slammed
me into the banister hard enough to nearly crack
a rib. Six-two, and even down a step I shouldnt
have been looking into someones belt buckle
so lets just say the man was tall and leave it
Did I mention he was strong? If it werent
for the greasy blood hampering his grip Id
have never been able to pull away from that hand,
and it still took the luck of a good jacket tearing
like silk in a shredder before I could break free.
I ejected the empty mag, slammed home a fresh
one and chambered a round. So okay, maybe the
guy had body armor but he didnt have any
on his head and this close it was lights out and
I dont give a damn how near a cousin he
was to Godzilla.
But I didnt get off another shot. His grimacing
black face turned from murder to surprise and
in a split second he was out of the doorway as
if Flo or I had let loose with a bazooka.
"Good Christ, Johnny are you okay?"
Flo was beside me and touching my damaged shoulder.
But it was the touch of a partner, a fellow cop,
not the, the whatever feeling Id had right
before the grizzly that walked like a man appeared.
"Yeah, fine, Im fine." All at
once the exertion hit home and I was tired; winded
and tired. The adrenaline was still looking for
a muscle to send into overdrive but the feeling
of euphoria, invincibility, and lets face
it, a lot of hornyness had ebbed.
"Well you dont look fine and dont
give me any crap cause were waiting
for backup before we
I had a feeling. I went through the open door
and three people awaited me there. Something told
me that the crumpled heap of rags on what was
once a human body had to be the pigeon guy, the
second person or thing was the now-sleeping man
who had attacked me, and the third was
"Hands in the air and you move I shoot!"
Flo shouted at the well-dressed man.
"Please ask your colleague not to do such
a drastic thing, John." The familiar voice
asked. "I was too late to help this one but
there are others nearby who we may yet save."
"You know this guy, Johnny?" Flo asked,
never taking her aim from the man I knew as an
old friend of my partners.
"Yeah, I know him. Flo Id like you
to meet Vic."
[ END ]
©2002 Bob Yosco