13th Precinct - Issue Nine
By: Bob Yosco
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Contact Information: reviews@shadowkeepzine.com - Continuing the fascinating 13th Precinct, enjoy issue nine...

Read Previous Issues:  One - Two - Three - Four - Five - Six - Seven - Eight

Click Here For Audio Version, read by the author  (not available this month)

Faces. 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 wasn’t 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 dead innocents.

"The Chief of D’s gets a middle of the night call from one of his pet reporters and he doesn’t 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 here?"

"Sorry, Boss, guess a little tired." I answered as the sound of my name brought me back to the Lieutenant’s office. I’d 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.

"We’re all flying on fumes." Lieutenant Haley said to the crowded room, his glare washing over the other half-asleep cops in the small office. "I’ll 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 don’t even dream of using any lost time until…"

I’d heard it all before and let the drone from Haley’s speech drift into the back of my mind as I went back to sorting through the latest visitation from my dead partner. Chinatown, he’d told me. Chinatown and try the duck. In the past I’d always appreciated Boyd’s propensity to get to the point but for once I wish he’d have been just a little more longwinded. The MO didn’t 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 I’d have to plod through, how many featured duck, like maybe all of them one way or the other?

"That’s 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. There’s 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 don’t 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 I’d have more tolerance for a female cop and didn’t 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. Don’t 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. Didn’t 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? What’s that I’m looking at? Nothing much, just chewing the fat with one of my invisible friends."

Yeah.

**

"I didn’t know Boyd very well, but he seemed like a nice guy."

There...a sentence, an actual sentence. We’d gotten the address from the desk and I’d driven eight or nine blocks before either of us did more than grunt in the others general direction, but that’s 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 mere coincidence.

"Tough break the squad dropping his case so fast. I mean, maybe it’s the wrong thing to say but I’d 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 I’d 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.

"Super’s 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. "I’ll 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 didn’t 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 and…

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…

"Johnny…"

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…

"Johnny, what…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. Taste…hell not taste, drink…

"Down!"

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 Perry’s 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 didn’t think to back away, my concentration on emptying a magazine of 9mm’s 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 shouldn’t have been looking into someone’s belt buckle so lets just say the man was tall and leave it at that.

Did I mention he was strong? If it weren’t for the greasy blood hampering his grip I’d 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 didn’t have any on his head and this close it was lights out and I don’t give a damn how near a cousin he was to Godzilla.

But I didn’t 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 I’d had right before the grizzly that walked like a man appeared.

"Yeah, fine, I’m 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 let’s face it, a lot of hornyness had ebbed.

"Well you don’t look fine and don’t give me any crap ‘cause we’re waiting for backup before we…Johnny!"

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 I’d like you to meet Vic."

End of Part 9

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