Midwatch

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Chapter 19: Politics

Another day, back at Narcotics Division. I want to talk to Detective Godfrey before the shift starts. With dope dealers being shot in our sector, I want to get as much information as possible. Maybe they know something we don’t? Maybe they don’t know as much as we do? Either way, it’s time for a little conference.

I see we’ve got someone new working at their front desk. By that, I mean I’ve never seen her before. She’s a civilian, too. That’s a little weird.

“I’m Officer Lynott, Central Midwatch. I’m looking for Detective Godfrey?”

Show her the badge and ID. She won’t just take my word for it. At least, I hope she won’t.

“Oh, yeah. He mentioned you. Do you know where his desk is?”

“Yeah, I’ve been here before.”

“Then go right back.”

This place looks as busy as usual. That’s one thing about Narcotics: they don’t have any downtime. It’s a wonder any of them can ever stay married. To be honest, I’m not sure they do. Angelo’s married, but for all I know, she’s his third wife. Cops go through a lot of spouses. It’s a great way to see your pension dwindle down to nothing.

“Detective Godfrey?”

“For the thousandth time, call me John!”

“We’re going to have to stop meeting like this. People are going to start talking.”

“I should be so lucky. How are you doing, Dani?”

“I’m good.”

“How’s your partner?”

“He’s good. I may have to kill him for laughing at my misfortune last night, but he’s good for now. Listen, I wanted to talk to you about…”

“Not so fast. There’s something we have to take care of, first.”

“What’s that?”

What is he doing? Why is he standing on his chair? A detective standing on a chair? That’s weird. Is he making an announcement?

“Everyone, listen up! This is the officer who snagged all those guns last night! Give it up for Officer Dani Lynott!”

Jesus! You’d think I just won the World Series! I guess I was wrong: these guys have way too much time on their hands!

“Congratulations, Dani. Great job. You and your partner.”

“Officer Harper.”

“Right. Harper. Do you have any idea what you guys found?”

“Yeah, a small arsenal.”

“Not just that. Those guys you caught? The buyers? They work for Shiloh. Remember, I told you about him?”

“The dope dealer who you thought might be moving in on Ricky’s territory?”

“That’s him. You see, a couple of his dealers got shot on skid row – someplace they weren’t supposed to be.”

“Yeah, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. So you think those guys were buying guns so that Shiloh guy could arm his dealers?”

“Pretty much, yeah. I guess they want to be able to shoot back.”

“The two guys with the guns were Four Deuce East Side. I was wondering who they’d be selling guns to? Now I know.”

“Yeah, they’re hardcore. The Gang Unit gave us their information. They’re not saying shit to us, but Shiloh’s guys are talking. Thanks to you.”

“I’m surprised they said anything. To tell you the truth, we didn’t have much of a charge against them.”

“Yeah, but they didn’t know that.”

That figures. A little creative storytelling in the interrogation room and they think they’re looking at life behind bars. Stupid motherfuckers. They should’ve asked for a lawyer.

“Listen, John, we had another dope dealer get shot last night, right at end of watch. A black guy. Two blocks west of Meridian.”

“The north side of the street? In front of that hotel?”

“Yeah, I forget the name of it. He said it was two male Hispanics in a green car. One of the witnesses said it was a small car, maybe a Honda or a Toyota. That’s as much as we got before they took him in for surgery.”

“And this was last night?”

“Yeah, just before end of watch. Maybe three o’clock? Right around then.”

“We didn’t hear about that one. Did the victim make it?”

“He was alive when we left the hospital at six o’clock this morning. I don’t know about after that. He was hit bad. He was tough, but I wouldn’t give you shit for his chances.”

“Are you sure he was a dealer?”

“That’s about the only thing we are sure of. Harper found eleven balloons of heroin on the sidewalk, right where he was standing when he got shot. We figured he spit them out when he got hit. He had a little over two hundred dollars’ cash in his pocket. We booked them both as evidence. Harper and I showed his picture to the old-timers working Graveyard, but none of them said they’d ever seen him before; let alone arrested him. We figure he’s not one of our local dealers.”

“And we’re just hearing about this now? Jesus! What would I do without you?”

“I’ve got the report number written down, here. You can pull a copy of it by now. It’s got his info and the witness statements. You should be able to pull a copy by now.”

“Will do. Thanks for the heads up.”

You know, maybe he knows why information on this shit doesn’t seem to be flowing the way it should be? Somebody has to know. God, with people getting killed? A lack of communication is not acceptable!

“John, why is there a clamp-down on this? Homicide detectives don’t want to tell me anything about the dealers who got shot. And I’ve got a weird feeling that someone still wants me to stay the hell away from Ricky and his dealers. What’s going on?”

“Let’s take a walk. The walls have ears.”

Oh, that’s definitely not what I wanted to hear! This can’t be good.

“Do you smoke, Dani?”

“No, but I have a feeling like maybe I should start.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. Let’s go outside.”

Like I said: this isn’t good. Most cops don’t like to talk in the station – any station – but when someone says ‘let’s take a walk,’ it means they have something to say that is definitely not for widespread distribution. Believe me, I know. I’ve had more of those conversations than I care to remember.

“We’re good out here. Mind if I smoke?”

“No, go ahead. What’s so secret that you couldn’t tell me in there?”

“All right, this is not for public distribution. I take it you’re familiar with Commander Hillel?”

“The douchebag who tried to get me fired for the Reid shooting? Yeah, I know him real well. I still have nightmares about him. What’s he got to do with it?”

“Well, you know he’s been jockeying to be the next chief?”

“If he is, I’ll resign in a heartbeat.”

“You and half the department. Anyway, we told you how he was the one behind the first stay-away order? About his so-called task force to combat the dope problem downtown? It seems he hasn’t given up on it. Word has it he’s been working with someone at the DEA to put together a major drug case against the downtown dealers. He’s got people in his own office working on it, too.”

“What the hell is he doing, putting together any kind of task force? That’s not his job. He’s an administrator. He’s at Office of Operations. He hasn’t done any police work in years. And that’s assuming he ever did.”

“Tell me about it. Word has it he’s trying to get his name in the papers as a ‘real’ cop. I guess he figures pushing paper isn’t enough to get him the top spot. Now, you and I both know Hillel wouldn’t know a burglar from burnt toast, but he wants to convince everyone he’s a real crime fighter. Chief Staunton’s still under fire for the Reid shooting, and everyone knows his days are numbered. Someone’s going to take his place pretty soon. So Hillel doesn’t want anything going on in your sector that he can’t take credit for himself.”

“Or that might make him look bad. Like me doing my job after he called me a liar and a disgrace and vowed to have me kicked out and prosecuted. Is the DEA really working with him?”

“Not as far as we know. Angelo called a few of our contacts over there. They don’t know anything about it. They didn’t even know Hillel’s name.”

“So this is all in his mind?”

“Either that, or he’s working with some guy higher up.”

“Two squirrels working on the same nut?”

“At this point, anything’s possible. But after what you went through, I thought you should know. He’s not going to be happy when he sees your name on those reports.”

That’s the understatement of the century!

“I appreciate that.”

“Dani, don’t think for a minute that we’re not all one hundred percent behind you. And if that asshole fucks with you…”

“You might want to think twice before you finish that sentence.”

“No, I don’t need to think twice. I don’t need to think once. We’re all behind you. You and Harper. You’re doing a great job. You’re making arrests, and you’re getting us some damned good information. Things are really happening in your sector for the first time in a long time. I just want you to know, we’ve got your back.”

“I know. And I really appreciate it. But trust me: you don’t want to get into this shit between me and Hillel. He’s a commander, and you know what he’s like. You don’t want to be on his shit list.”

“Fuck him and his list! You’re doing what you’re supposed to do. We appreciate it. That applause back there? That was for real. That was a major hit you gave Shiloh. We were jumping up and down when we heard about it. Hell, we’re putting you and Harper in for a commendation. You earned it.”

“We weren’t the only ones there. Make sure you mention everyone in the report.”

“OK, we will. But we know it was you two who made it happen. You and Harper. I want you to know, we’re on your side. Don’t stop! Don’t stop, no matter what! You keep right on doing what you’re doing. You’re making a difference; believe me! You’re getting results. And everyone here knows it.”

“That means a lot. Thanks.”

“No. Thank you!

It really is good to know I’ve got someone in my corner. I know all too well what it’s like to have no one there. It’s actually hard for me to believe, but I believe him.

“We’re not going to let up. Harper and I are going to keep putting the screws to Ricky. Especially now that he’s having people shot. It’s only a matter of time before his gunners start hitting bystanders. Especially if they’re doing drive-by shootings. Jesus, even the gangbangers gave that up for the most part.”

“We were saying the exact same thing this morning. This is going to be a real mess, and we don’t know how long it’s going to last. Central and Mid-City? Two divisions is a lot of ground for us to cover. We just don’t have the people. That means we’re going to need you out there. We’re going to need whatever information you can get for us.”

“We’ll keep sending you everything we find out.”

“You do that. And we’ll give you whatever help we can. You just call me, anytime.”

“I will.”

“I mean that. If you come across anything you think will help, you call – day or night. Tell Harper to do the same.”

“Will do. And thanks. I mean it. It means a lot to know someone’s on my side for a change.”

“Everyone in this office is on your side. Believe me, we love you guys.”

“Thanks, John.”

“Now, what’s this I hear about you and Harper destroying Ricky’s stash with a fucking sledgehammer?”

Wow! Word gets around fast, I see!

“Why, Detective Godfrey! Just where did you hear a ridiculous thing like that?”

That’s a story I definitely don’t want the walls to hear!


Central Station. Time for roll call. I’m late! I’m late! Jesus, I sound like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland! I hate being late to roll call, but the traffic between here and Narcotics Division was horrible. Damned road construction! You’d think they’d stop tearing up the street in time for rush hour, but noooooo! Some genius must have thought it was a good idea to have traffic backed up across the downtown area! I thought I was going to make it, but whenever I try to rush, it takes forever to put on all of this gear. I’m always afraid I’ll forget something, so I end up checking everything two or three times. My dad having been a contractor, he taught me the old carpenter’s maxim: measure twice; cut once. Sound advice. At least I know I’ve got everything.

Oh, shit! They’re all in here and they’re all staring at me as I try to slink in the door! And Sergeant Gellar doesn’t look very happy with me!

“Lynott! Nice of you to join us!”

“Sorry, Sarge. I got held up over at Narcotics Division.”

“Fair enough. Take your seat.”

OK, why are they all laughing? What did I miss?

“I said take your seat, Lynott!”

“My seat?”

“Yeah! Right there!”

Oh, I don’t fucking believe this! Harper, you’re a dead, dead, dead man! Look at this shit! They’ve stacked a bunch of hand sanitizer and toilet tissue right in front of my chair! That little son of a bitch told them all about it! I’ll kill him!

“Harper!”

“I’m sorry, Dani! They made me tell!”

“Squealer!”

This is humiliating! God, even Sergeant Gellar’s laughing his ass off!

“Sarge!”

“Don’t blame him, Lynott. He had no choice. He’s a boot. I ordered him to tell me.”

“That’s no excuse!”

“Just sit down, and for God’s sake, keep your hands to yourself!”

“Oh, you assholes!”

“Keep your hands to yourself? I guess that kind of takes on a new meaning, right, Lynott?”

“I really hate all of you right now! You know that, right?”

Harper’s got his hand up again. You’re not going to take a TO and escape, Harper!

“Sergeant Gellar, sir?”

“What is it, Harper?”

“Officer Lynott can use her hands to pay me the twenty bucks she lost.”

Oh, good God! I actually forgot about that! My beloved Red Sox completely choked after the second inning! Seven to four? Seven to four! Against the Yankees? God, why do you hate me so much?

“Was this the Red Sox debacle?”

“Yes, sir. She actually thought they’d beat the Yankees.”

He’s gloating? My fucking boot is actually gloating? First, he snitches me off! Then, he fucking gloats because the fucking Yankees beat the Red Sox? He’s evil!

“Harper! I am your training officer! Do not mention that pin-striped horde in my presence!”

“Yes, ma’am. Can I have my twenty bucks now?”

“Here! I hope you fucking choke on it!”

As if laughing at me for getting my hands covered in human shit wasn’t bad enough!

“Sarge, order him to stop laughing at me!”

“No can do, Lynott. This is just too fucking funny. Officer Harper, you might want to sterilize that bill before you touch it. I’m just saying.”

“Yes, sir! I’ll do that, sir! Officer Lynott, could you pass me some of that hand sanitizer, please?”

“How about I stick it up your ass, instead?”

“Just make sure you wash your hands first.”

This is actually worse than I thought it would be! And I didn’t think it could possibly be any worse than I thought it would be!

“I am not listening to any of you anymore! Go ahead and laugh! I can’t hear you!”

Yeah, I know it’s pretty juvenile. But I can’t come up with anything better right now.

“All right, everyone! Settle down! Moving right along. We had another shooting right before end of watch last night. It seems it was another dope dealer who got shot. He survived the surgery, but died early this afternoon. Three hits in the chest with a .40 Smith. That’ll do it. So watch yourselves around those dope spots. You don’t want to get caught in a crossfire. Though it looks like one side is doing most of the shooting, so maybe there won’t be a crossfire? OK, so don’t get caught in the line of fire. Wait a minute, we have a visitor. Lieutenant Hagan? What can we do for you?”

“I need to see Lynott and Harper after roll call.”

“Fine. You got that, Lynott? Harper?”

“She can’t hear you, sir.”

“I forgot. She can’t hear us, lieutenant.”

“Why not? I thought the shit was on her hands, not in her ears.”

He knows, too? Oh, this just keeps getting worse by the minute!

Et tu, lieutenant?”

“Yes, me, too! That was the funniest fucking thing I’ve heard in a long time! You just became a Central Division legend, Lynott!”

“Lieutenant, how much time would I get for killing an entire watch?”

“Life with no hope. Unless it’s Daywatch. Then you’d get ninety days.”

“Ah, fuck!”

“See me after roll call. You and Harper. Harper?”

“Yes, sir?”

“Make sure she washes her hands first.”

“I’ll do that, sir.”

Yeah, I was afraid of this. This isn’t going away anytime soon!


Heading for the Watch Commander’s office. I feel like I’m headed to a firing squad. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I’m a bit nervous about this “see me after roll call” business. I know it isn’t just so that the lieutenant can make jokes. Maybe it’s something good, like an “attaboy” for that gun caper last night? Then again, maybe it’s something bad. Ever since Detective Godfrey told me that Commander Hillel might be behind the whole stay-away-from-Ricky shit, I’ve had a sick feeling in my stomach.

“Harper! Or should I call you Officer Traitor?”

“I swear, I didn’t have a choice! Sergeant Gellar asked me point-blank!”

“How did he know?”

“Someone told him about your decontamination shower last night.”

Who the hell would have told him? Who would have known…oh, shit! Bridget! She did it!

“It was Bridget, wasn’t it? Fucking Bridget told him!”

“How would she know?”

“She was in the locker room last night. She saw me coming out of the shower.”

“Did you tell her?”

“Unfortunately, yes! Rotten little big-mouthed bitch!”

I should have kept my mouth shut, but I was still mildly freaking out at that point. And I thought she was my friend. See what happens when you trust people?

“So I’m off the hook with you?”

“Not by a long shot! Whatever happened to that whole Marine ‘Death before dishonor’ crap?”

“I’m still a boot. We’re not allowed to have any honor without permission from a sergeant.”

“So you just gave me up? Your partner?”

“I swear, it wasn’t by choice.”

That’s probably true. He’s a boot. He’s not allowed to disobey an order to subject his partner to unyielding humiliation. I hate to admit it, but I’ve forced boots to give up dirt on their training officers from time to time. I guess it’s true what they say: what goes around, comes around. That sucks!

“OK, you’re half off the hook.”

“I’ll make it up to you. I promise.”

“How?”

“I have no idea.”

“I’ll deal with you later, mister!”

I’ll have to think of some shit detail for him to do. Too bad I can’t make him clean the floors or something like that. But don’t worry. I’ll think of something.

All right, here we go. God, I hope this meeting isn’t going to be a bad one. Lieutenant Hagan’s a good guy.

“You wanted to see us, sir?”

“Yeah, both of you come in here. Don’t worry. You’re not in trouble.”

See? That’s how a good supervisor starts one of these meetings. If you’re not in trouble, they tell you right up front.

“What’s up?”

“The captain got word from above. Someone’s not happy about the way you two have been leaning on Ricky and his dealers.”

Gee, after talking to Detective Godfrey this afternoon, I wonder who that could be?

“Sir, he’s the biggest dope dealer in our sector. He’s also responsible for a lot of these dope dealer shootings. I think we both know that.”

“We do. Look, I don’t claim to know what’s going on outside of the division. Someone wants us all to back off. I think we all know it’s political.”

“Political because of Ricky, or political because of me?”

“I’d like to think it’s got something to do with Ricky. I think you know that a while back under the old captain, we were told to back off and leave him to Narcotics. The captain agreed with that decision.”

Yeah, but even Harper’s not buying that bullshit.

“Excuse me? Sir, Dani and I have been in contact with the Narcotics detectives assigned to this sector. They know what we’re doing. They told us to keep it up.”

“Is that true, Lynott?”

“It’s true, sir. I spoke to John Godfrey before I came to work today. He’s thrilled with what we’ve been doing. In fact, everyone in his unit is.”

“And for the record, so am I. And so is Sergeant Gellar, and so is the captain. You’re making us look good.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“Apparently, someone’s got bigger and better things planned for Ricky. Apparently, it’s some multi-jurisdictional thing. It’s not just us.”

I’d love to tell him that Angelo spoke to his DEA contacts and they said they don’t know anything about it, but I don’t want to tip my hand. It’s pretty clear the lieutenant’s not happy about this any more than I am. I think I’ll keep that one in reserve. I might need it later.

“Sir, Narcotics thinks those guns we grabbed were meant for a rival dope dealer to arm his people. The sellers were south end gangbangers. We’ve got a war going on, and it’s probably going to get a lot worse. How long do you think it will be before some innocent bystander gets shot? I don’t think backing off is a good idea right now. Harper agrees with me on this.”

“Absolutely, sir. We back off, and we’re just going to embolden Ricky. God knows what he’ll do, then.”

“You two do remember that he threatened to have you killed, right? Someone took a shot at you already.”

Yeah, like we could ever forget that!

“We haven’t forgotten, sir. But if we back down now, Ricky’s going to think he can intimidate us. He’s going to think he can intimidate the whole division. And if you ask me, if we back down, he has.”

“You’re right, Harper. And I’m not telling you to back down. So far, this is just a ‘suggestion’ from above. The captain didn’t receive an order to reel you two in, and I’m not going to do that. Like I said, you two are making us all look good. Especially me. Hell, I’m the Watch Commander. Your numbers are putting everyone else to shame.”

“We aim to please, sir.”

“The captain told me to inform the both of you, and now I’ve done it. He also told me to tell you two to keep up the good work. I think you can take from that what he means.”

I guess I should ask him point-blank. I’m not going to stick my neck out if I don’t have an answer.

“Sir? Have you got our backs?”

“Absolutely.”

“Does the captain have our backs?”

“I believe he does.”

“That’s all we need to know.”

“Then we’re on the same page. Good. That’s all.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Officer Harper? Have you got anything to add?”

“She’s the boss, sir. I do what she does.”

“Good. Keep doing it.”

Not bad, Harper. I may let you live after all.


That went better than expected, but it doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet. You see, that’s how it usually works on the department: they start with a mild sort of noncommittal “suggestion,” and if whoever the asshole is who made the “suggestion” doesn’t get what he wants, he throws a hissy fit and comes down on you like a fucking anvil. I know. I’ve had the anvil land right on my head, though in my case, they skipped the mild “suggestion” part. But I’ve been around long enough to know how this political shit works, and it’s always infuriated me to no end. We’re not a fucking carpet cleaning company. If we stop doing this job the way it’s got to be done, then everything goes to shit. People get hurt. Assholes think they can get away with anything – even murder. Take a look at times when crime went up, and you’ll usually see some corresponding departmental political bullshit preceding it – like when they dropped felony dope possession to a misdemeanor. Now we’ve got an opioid crisis. Great! It takes the assholes a little while to catch on, but the result is always the same: crime goes through the roof. But it seems like the brass never understands that. Alcoholics Anonymous says the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again; each time expecting a different result. This shit has been going on since before I was born, but the powers that be never seem to realize that the result never changes. I’ve stopped trying to understand it. I wish I could understand it, if only so that I could explain it to Harper. He probably doesn’t know what the fuck is going on. Well, I can’t answer his questions, but I can tell him what I know about this particular case. He’s my partner. I owe him that much.

“Dani? Are we good?”

“Fucking political bullshit! Don’t worry. We’re good. We’re doing the right thing, and our own people seem to realize it. But this could get ugly, so the choice is yours: do you want to back off?”

“Why are you asking me that?”

“Because you’re my partner, and we don’t do anything unless we’re both in agreement.”

“You’re the boss. I do what you do.”

“I’m not talking about boots and training officers. I told you on day one…”

“I remember what you told me. And you’re still the boss. I’d follow you straight into hell, Dani. That’s a fact.”

“I wouldn’t want to go there without you. Oh, Jesus! That came out wrong!”

“No, it didn’t. We’re partners. We’re in this together, and we’re going to see it through together. Wherever you go, I go. No matter what. I’ve got your back, no matter who it is that’s gunning for you.”

You see, this is why it’s hard to stay mad at him: he’s the textbook definition of a really good guy.

“And I’ve got yours. All right, let’s go put that fucking asshole Ricky out of business.”

“Lead the way.”

“You know, I want to look at a different tactic. A different way to hit Ricky.”

“What did you have in mind?”

“For whatever reason, Ricky is glued to the Big Lot. That’s his base. He never seems to go anywhere else.”

“OK, so how do we use that against him?”

“Do you know what an abatement is?”

“I’ve heard it mentioned, but no, I don’t know what it is.”

“Basically, when someone owns an asshole place and doesn’t do anything about it, the city can confiscate the property. They call that an abatement.”

“Are you saying the city can confiscate the Big Lot?”

“I don’t see why not. It’s the biggest open-air drug market in the downtown area, and everybody and his brother knows it. It’s been that way for, what? Years?”

“More like decades, from what I’ve heard.”

“That sounds like a candidate for abatement to me.”

“So how do we do it?”

“Every division has someone in charge of abatements. We need to find out who that is at this division. Unfortunately, they always work Daywatch. That means we can’t ask until tomorrow.”

“OK, so once we find out who handles it, then what do we have to do?”

“We don’t have to do much of anything. They put together the documentation that proves the property is an asshole place, and they give the owner an ultimatum: clean it up, or else.”

“That shouldn’t be hard. There’s got to be a million arrest reports for that place.”

“And another million crime reports – including a recent homicide. All right, tomorrow morning, we’ll find out who runs the abatements and we’ll ask them to start the process on the Big Lot.”

“Will they do it?”

“That’s the sixty-four thousand dollar question. But it can’t hurt to ask.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

“Sounds like a damned good plan.”

“I wouldn’t expect any less from you, partner.”

If any other boot said that to me, I’d know he was just trying to butter me up. But I know Harper’s not like that. I swear, it’s going to kill me when he gets wheeled out of here.

“In the meantime, Ricky’s been shooting the shit out of these rival dealers. We should do a lot of extra patrol at the places where these new guys are trying to make inroads.”

“You mean the outlying dope spots around the Big Lot?”

“Bingo! We can chalk off that one from last night. Nobody’s crazy enough to set up there after that guy got shot. Not this soon, at any rate.”

“That leaves plenty of other spots.”

“And we’ll try to go by them all, if it’s no too crazy with radio calls. Unfortunately, the heatwave isn’t going to help with that. Come on, let’s do this.”

If we can catch some of Ricky’s boys trying to shoot up the competition, they’ll probably roll on him. From what I know about Ricky, he doesn’t inspire loyalty. He rules by fear. That’s his weakness. Life in prison is a lot scarier than an angry Ricky. They’ll roll on him for sure.


Out on patrol. So far, it’s a bit quieter than it was last night. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. Three radio calls right out of the chute. Nothing serious, but it proves that the craziness hasn’t completely dissipated. Hundred-plus degree weather will do that. At least there haven’t been any more shootings – so far.

“Dani, we’ve got a guy trying to flag us down.”

“Where?”

“Ten o’clock, at the entrance to Grand Alley.”

“Let’s see what he wants. But stay sharp. It could be a setup.”

“Roger that. He looks pretty excited.”

He sure does. Homeless guy. Thin as a rail. I’m guessing he’s a junkie. In Grand Alley, that’s almost a given.

“He’s coming over to your side, Harper.”

“Hey, buddy? What’s going on?”

“Officer, thank God! We need help! My friends…I think they’re dying!”

“Dying?”

“Yeah. In the alley!”

“What happened to them?”

“I think they got some bad dope! They all started puking right after they slammed! It’s bad! One of them’s passed out, already! They need a doctor!”

“What’s your name?”

“Huh?”

“I said, what’s your name?”

“Keith.”

“All right, Keith. Show us where they are.”

Fucking great! A mass overdose? Or maybe what they were shooting wasn’t even dope?

“I’ll call for EMS. Harper, try to find out what they were shooting.”

“They were shooting heroin, officer.”

“Are you sure it was heroin?”

“Yeah! They just got it. They were all shooting from the same batch.”

“What about you?”

“No, I didn’t slam yet. I was about to, but then they all started puking their guts out.”

“How many people?”

“There’s four of us. Four besides me, I mean.”

“Sixteen Central, we need EMS at Grand Alley, north of 5th Street. Four victims, possible narcotics overdose.”

“Sixteen Central, roger.”

I don’t see them. There are too many people here. Oh, wait a minute. Harper’s found them. In the alcove.

“Dani! Over here!”

“How bad?”

“I don’t know. Three of them are unconscious.”

He’s right. Three of them are out cold, and the fourth guy looks like he’s about to have a seizure. Sleeves rolled up, tracks all over their arms; they’re junkies, all right.

“Are they still breathing?”

“Yeah, but I can’t tell how much.”

“Hey, Keith! Where’s the dope?”

“Oh, man! I don’t want to…”

“We’re not going to hook you up on a dope charge. But if they OD’d or got some poison shit, we need it for the doctors. So where is it?”

“Under the dumpster. Right over there.”

“Harper, secure that dope. Now, Keith? Were any of these guys sick before this happened? I don’t mean withdrawal sick. I mean physically ill. Were they?”

“Not that I saw.”

“Do you know if they ate anything?”

“Just breakfast at the mission.”

I guess that rules out food poisoning or the bubonic plague.

“Harper! This one’s stopped breathing! I can’t find a pulse!”

“CPR?”

“Start the compressions! I’ve got the airway!”

The idea of giving some skank-assed junkie mouth-to-mouth is enough to make me gag, but it has to be done. It’s like I always say: none of us were drafted. We’re all volunteers.

“Stand clear!”

That’s one breath. Nothing. Shit! A heroin overdose shuts down the part of your brain that controls breathing. If these guys took enough dope to do that, then they’re toast. All the CPR in the world won’t get them breathing again.

“Compressions! Go!”

That’s one good thing about being a training officer: since your partners are all recent academy graduates, they still remember how to do CPR.

“Anything?”

“Nothing!”

“Stand clear!”

Come on, asshole! Breathe! Your fucking breath is making me sick!

“Hold it, Harper! He’s breathing again! Sixteen Central, where’s our EMS?”

“Sixteen Central, unknown. EMS is en route.”

They’d better get here fast! One shot of Narcan should bring them out of this almost immediately. Without it, they’re fucked!

“Check those other guys to make sure they’re breathing.”

“Dani, we’ve got EMS.”

“Good. Go flag them over here.”

What the fuck were these guys taking? Did they steal some pharmaceutical-grade dope? Did they get a hold of some ridiculously pure shit? I’ve heard of this kind of thing happening before. Some new batch of ultra-pure crap hits the streets, and the junkies start dropping like flies. They get scared to buy the dope from the dealers, they go completely psycho, and all hell breaks loose. That’s the last thing we need out here.

“Guys! Over here!”

“What is it? Overdose?”

“Probably. This guy over here…what’s your name again?”

“Keith.”

“Yeah, Keith said they were all shooting up, and they started puking and then they passed out.”

“Did he take any?”

“He says no.”

“I didn’t! I swear, ma’am!”

“Well, lucky you! Anyway, this guy stopped breathing for a few seconds.”

“OK, we’ve got it from here. Did you find their dope?”

“My partner’s got it. Whatever’s left in that spike is what they took.”

“We’ll take it with us.”

“Are you going to use Narcan?”

“If it’s a heroin overdose, that’s what’s called for.”

Here’s hoping it is. If it isn’t, I’d hate to think they might kill these guys by giving them that shit. I don’t know if that’s possible, but I’d hate to find out the hard way.

“Harper, get Keith’s information. Don’t worry, Keith. We’re not arresting you.”

“Oh, thanks, man! I mean, ma’am.”

“You’re welcome. But since we’re doing you a favor, you need to do us one. Where did you guys get that crap?”

“Well, I really can’t say…”

“I’m not asking you to give up a dealer. But if somebody’s selling bad dope, we need to know. Hell, you need to know! You almost ended up like your friends, here.”

“I don’t know where they got it, ma’am.”

Oh, here we go! I am not in the mood for a bunch of junkie bullshit! I mean, we just saved his friends’ asses! Is it so much to ask?

“Don’t go getting stingy on me now, Keith!”

“No, it’s not that. I mean, I really don’t know. I don’t know who he is. There’s these new guys dealing. We never bought from them before tonight. We never even saw them before yesterday.”

I think we have our first non-combatant casualties in our dope dealer war. New dealers, new dope, new shitload of problems for everyone. Just fucking great!

“Let’s narrow it down, OK? These new dealers? Are they black guys?”

“Yeah. How’d you know?”

“I’m a cop. I get paid to know shit like that. So where were they dealing?”

“The loading docks.”

The way he said that, it sounds like everyone in the whole damned world is supposed to know where that is. How? There’s got to be a million loading docks out here! Hell, there’s a bunch of loading docks in Grand Alley, not twenty feet from here. I’m hoping Harper can narrow it down. If I have to press this guy for details, he’s going to clam up. Junkies are like that.

“Harper? Do you know a place out here called the loading docks?”

“Sure. Everyone knows that place.”

Everyone but me, it seems. I wish there was a book about this division that I could take home and study. The again, it would probably be about six inches thick.

“We need to check it out. Our friend Keith says there are a bunch of new dealers selling heroin over there.”

“Is that where these guys bought this shit?”

“That’s what he says. He also says the new dealers are black guys. Ring a bell?”

“Ricky’s new competition.”

“So if Ricky’s going to shoot some more of the competition tonight…”

“He’s going to do it at the loading docks.”

“It’s as good a place to start as any. And if these guys are selling some new potent shit, we need to know about it.”

“I think that’s what’s happening. These guys are already coming around. One shot of Narcan and it’s like someone turned them back on.”

“That’s how it works. Get that dope back from the paramedics. We’ll have it tested.”

“Do we take a report?”

“Do any of those guys look like they want to file a report?”

“Not even.”

“We’ll get their names and whatever else we can from them. We’ll forward it with the dope. We’ll just book it as found evidence and let the eggheads at SID figure out what it is.”

“Dani, if these new dealers are selling crappy dope, it isn’t the best way to build up a clientele.”

“See, that’s why you’re a cop. You’re not insanely stupid enough to make a good dope dealer.”

He’s got a point, though. Who the hell opens up a new market by killing off the customers? It’s got to be a screw-up. Either that, or Ricky somehow sold them a load of crappy dope to sabotage their takeover. I wouldn’t put it past him, but that’s for John and Angelo to figure out. Our concern right now is these assholes shooting each other. While I wouldn’t give you a nickel for most of the assholes out here, it’s almost a given that Ricky’s gunmen are going to end up blasting a bystander or two before long. There are plenty of people out here who would benefit from some shooting, but not all of them. Like it or not, we have a duty to protect them.


We’re here. So these are the loading docks? I can see why they rate their own name. This place is pretty big. And the guys who look like dealers are definitely black guys. This is a little far from Ricky’s territory, but my guess is he figures the whole downtown area is his territory. I wonder if he’s got dealers catering to the rich people in the Emerald City? I know heroin’s made quite a comeback in Suburbia. I’ll bet more than a few people in the skyscrapers are using heroin. They’ve got to buy it from somebody.

“This is the place?”

“Yep. Welcome to the loading docks, Dani. One of the well-known hotspots among the homeless.”

“So this place is a big dope spot?”

“Yeah. During the day, the truck drivers hire the homeless to load and unload the trucks. They pay them cash. Whenever you get a bunch of homeless people in one place with money…”

“It turns into a dope spot.”

“This place is kind of hot and cold. They’ve had problems here over the years. People getting shot, or getting their brains bashed in by some angry truck driver with a tire iron.”

“That’ll kill the business.”

“Not to mention a few of the customers. But it looks like it’s definitely picked up around here.”

I don’t want to pass up a chance to pick up a little intelligence for the detectives. We’ve still got enough daylight – thank God for Daylight Savings Time – and I’ve got a camera with a telephoto lens in my bag. Time to put it to good use.

“Harper, is there a good OP here?”

“Yeah. See those trees on the north side of the lot?”

“Roger. Can we get over there without them seeing us?”

“We should be able to. Their attention is all directed southward.”

“I’ve got a good camera in my bag. Grab your binoculars. I want to try to get some pictures of those dealers.”

“Why not just jack them up?”

“If we do that, then Ricky’s gunmen might see us and not stop by. I just want to get a few pictures of those guys and give them to Narcotics.”

“Are we allowed to do that?”

“Officially? No. So if anyone asks…”

“We were never here.”

“Grab your binoculars. We’re losing daylight.”

I almost never got to do this sort of thing when I worked other divisions. Either the other cops weren’t up for it, or the sergeants and lieutenants really frowned on it. It was also a lot harder to find a good OP for this sort of thing. But out here, there’s a million of them. I just hope we can get over there without them seeing us. We don’t have a lot of time left. My camera isn’t a night vision camera. I hope Harper has a plan, because I sure don’t.

“How do we get over there without them seeing us?”

“Just follow my lead. I’ve had some experience at this.”

“Some of your training officers?”

“No, recon was a big part of what we did in Iraq. And this time, we don’t have to worry about coming across some asshole sitting behind an RPK with a seventy-five round drum.”

“OK, so what do we do?”

“Wait for one of those trucks to pass by. It’ll attract their attention, and the noise will cover us.”

Good idea. Those things are plenty loud in a place like this.

“Here comes one. Get ready.”

It looks like he’s pulling into the loading docks. Good. They’ll all be looking the other way, and they won’t be able to hear or see shit.

“Ready…now! Go!”

Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Almost there! A little further! Yes! We’re there!

“Did they see us?”

“I doubt it. Can you get a shot through these trees?”

“Oh, yeah. You man the binoculars. Pick out the dealers for me.”

“Got it. One o’clock, by the parking post. Plaid shirt.”

“I see him. Say cheese, asshole!”

“Two guys at the far end of the loading dock. One’s in a blue shirt, the other one’s in a green shirt.”

“Good call. They’re definitely not homeless guys.”

“And they’re not going over to that truck, so they’re not looking to pick up a few bucks.”

“Sure they are. They’re just doing it a different way.”

“Selling dope.”

“Beats working for a living, I guess.”

Nice. The pictures are coming out good. I felt like an idiot spending so much money for a camera when I’m not a photography nut, but this thing’s been worth it over the years.

“There’s one more guy by the edge of the lot. Ten o’clock. Right at the edge of the street.”

“I see him. He’s pretty far away from the others. He might be a lookout.”

“Or he’s waving the customers over to the dealers.”

“Very good, Officer Harper. You’ve learned well.”

“I’ve got a good teacher.”

“Do you see any parked cars?”

“No.”

“Then how did these dealers get here? They sure as hell didn’t take the bus.”

“Someone probably dropped them off.”

Agreed, but that’s pretty fucking crazy. These guys are getting shot on sight. With no ride, they’re sitting ducks. Can they really be that stupid?

“We can’t sit here all night waiting for their ride to show up. Damn! I’d like to get a picture of their car. Especially if we could get the license plate.”

“Tomorrow’s another day, partner.”

“If someone’s going to take a shot at these guys, they’ll probably come from the northwest. It’s the best approach if you don’t want to be seen. We’ll have to remember that for later.”

“You don’t think someone’s going to try anything now?”

“I wouldn’t put it past them, but why try it in broad daylight when it isn’t necessary? No, if someone’s going to shoot at these guys, it’s going to be after sundown.”

“They usually stop selling here around nine or ten.”

“Then we’ll try to come back here then. For now, we got what we came for.”

“Roger that. Let’s un-ass this OP.”

“Excuse me?”

“That’s Marine talk. Try to keep up, Dani.”

Smartass! He must’ve been a barrel of fun in Falluja.


The beauty of these digital cameras is that you can send pictures to someone right away. And since we’ve got Detective Godfrey’s cell phone number, there’s no time like the present. We’ll just send them along and put in a little description of what he’s looking at. He did say to call any time, day or night. It’s nice when technology works for us. Usually, it gives the assholes all the advantages. They’re definitely into high-tech.

“What now, Dani?”

“Let’s head over to the missions. With all of the crazy shit that’s been happening, we should be there for the lockout.”

“Yeah, it’s been getting out of control, lately.”

“Twenty-Two Central, officer needs assistance! Vester and 6th Street! We’re taking rocks and bottles!”

Oh, shit! That’s Vinell and Kursteff!

“That’s eighteen blocks, Dani!”

“Floor it!”

“All units, officer needs assistance: Vester and 6th Street. Twenty-Two Central is taking rocks and bottles. Units en route, identify?”

“Sixteen Central responding code three!”

“Sixteen Central, roger.”

“You’re clear on the right! Go!”

Our red lights and siren aren’t authorized, but neither is Harper driving eighty miles per hour in a thirty mile zone. Damn! That call should have gone out as an officer needs help call! Our guys are getting pelted, and I’ve seen just how fast a huge, angry crowd can gather out here! Every unit in the division should be en route at warp speed by now!

“Forty-Four Central, en route.”

“Sixty-Three Central, en route.”

“Eight Central, we’re almost there!”

“Twenty-Seven Central, responding code three! E.T.A. thirty seconds!”

“Thirty Central, en route to the assistance call. Have all units responding code three to discontinue code three driving immediately!”

Thirty Central? Who the hell is that? Someone from Nightwatch. Fucking idiot sergeant! He’s more afraid of unauthorized code three driving than he is about getting help to our people! God, I hate sergeants like that! Thank God he’s not one of our Midwatch sergeants!

“Dani?”

“Fuck him! Keep going! If he asks, I ordered you to do it. Do you understand?”

“Yeah.”

That won’t keep Harper completely out of trouble, but it should soften the blow – if there is one.

“Clear right! How much further, Harper?”

“Almost there!”

It always feels like it takes forever to get to these calls no matter how fast you drive. I just hope our guys are all right. Hang on, guys! We’re coming!

“That’s Vester! Left turn!”

“I got it! They’re just up ahead! Oh, shit! Dani, are you seeing this?”

“I see it!”

That’s one serious mob! And the street’s already littered with shit they threw at our guys! This is going to be a royal fucking mess!

“Harper, stop the car about fifty feet behind that parked unit! Lock up the brakes! It might scare them! As soon as we stop, pop the trunk and grab your helmet!”

“Way ahead of you, partner!”

“Sixteen Central, we’re at scene! We need more units! Repeat: we need more units! Major 415 crowd!”

“Sixteen Central, roger. Any unit in the vicinity, Sixteen Central is requesting additional units for a major 415 crowd, Vester and 5th Street. Units en route, identify?”

Nothing! Where the fuck are they? I know the goddamned radio isn’t broken! Where the fuck is everyone?

This thing has gone beyond a mob and into the riot zone! Helmets are definitely called for on this one! God, if that idiot sergeant starts screaming that our helmets are provoking the crowd, I’ll kill him! Fuck! I hope that asshole isn’t the senior sergeant at scene! Guys like that put cops in the hospital with their fucking stupidity!

“Dani, here’s your helmet! Let’s go!”

“Right behind you!”

I didn’t expect to be wearing a riot helmet my first DP in this division, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. This place is tailor-made for a riot!

“Kursteff! What happened? Are you guys all right?”

“Lynott! Yeah, we’re OK. This shit’s out of control!”

“Grab your helmets!”

That’s the heatwave for you: it doesn’t take much to spark a riot. This crowd is really hitting us with everything they can find! This isn’t just rocks and bottles. I see broken cinder blocks in the street. Jesus! Is that Twenty-Two’s car? The front windshield’s busted out! Oh, shit! That’s one of the new cars, too!

“Dani! We’ve got Forty-Four and Eight from Midwatch! Twenty-Seven and Sixty-Three from Nightwatch!”

All right, fuck these assholes! Time for a little show of force!

“Everybody grab your helmets and give me a diagonal line across Vester!”

If nobody else is going to take charge, I’m going to do it. We can’t just stand here and hope they don’t hit us with this shit! This is fucking ridiculous!

“Harper! Give me a diagonal skirmish line from that point over there to the car! Get these people in line!”

“Roger that! Come on, you heard her! Hats and bats! Skirmish line! Line it up! Diagonal from me back to the car, west to east!”

Thank God Harper knows what he’s doing. He’ll be my formation leader. I’ll stay in the middle of the line, call out the orders to him, and he’ll call them out to the whole formation. The Marine in him should inspire confidence in the rest of them. Yes! The others are falling into line! Good! I don’t know most of these Nightwatch guys. Some of them might have a problem taking orders from a woman. Not that I give a shit. Somebody’s got to control this thing!

“Sixteen Central, where the hell are those units? We need more officers here right now!”

“Sixteen Central, roger. Any unit in the vicinity, Sixteen Central needs additional units for a major crowd disturbance, Vester and 5th Street. Units en route, identify?”

Still nothing! What the fuck is going on in this division?

“Harper! Take them ten steps forward! Ten steps! Move these assholes back from the car!”

“Squad! Ten steps forward! Ten steps forward! On me! Ready? Move! Forward! Forward!”

It’s working. The crowd’s moving back. Meet disorganized force with organized force and hope they get the message. I guess these people aren’t as stupid as they’re acting.

“Hold it up! Harper! Hold it up!”

“Squad! Halt! Stay in formation!”

We don’t have enough people to go into the crowd with arrest teams and grab the agitators. That’s usually the best way to disperse a mob like this. We’re just going to have to hold our position until more officers arrive. Shit! What’s taking them so long?

“Dani! We can’t hold here!”

Fuck! Harper’s right! They’re still throwing shit at us, and some of our people have already been hit! I don’t see anyone going down. Good! No serious injuries – yet! We need to break this bunch up now! Before they can try to encircle us – which they’ll do, eventually! I’m not going to let that happen!

“Sixteen Central, where the hell is everybody?”

“Sixteen Central, stand by.”

Stand by? Is she fucking kidding me? We can’t stand by! We don’t have enough officers to hold both sides of the street, and if they get past us on either side, we’re fucked! All right! We go with what we’ve got! We move these assholes right back into the intersection!

“Harper! Stand by to push them back into the intersection! Anyone gets close, jab the shit out of them with a nightstick!”

“What about the traffic?”

“Screw the traffic! If they get hit by a car, it’s their fault!”

“Sounds good! Waiting for your order!”

“We move in formation! March step until we get within twenty feet, then we charge the crowd, double time! March step first, then when I say so, double time! Got it?”

“Loud and clear! Squad! On Officer Lynott’s order! March step forward, double time forward on her order! Wait for the order! Wait for it!”

We’re as lined up as we’re going to get. Jesus, where the hell is everyone else? This is fucking ridiculous!

“Harper! Now! Forward, march!”

“Squad! Forward, march! Forward! Stay in formation! Sweep them back!”

It’s working! They’re giving ground! A lot of them are dropping their rocks and shit. Almost close enough. Almost…almost…almost…now!

“Harper! Forward on the double! Jab strikes! Now!”

“Squad! Forward, double time! Double time! Jab strikes! Go!”

Yes! We’re staying in formation! It’s working! A few sharp pokes in the gut with a nightstick definitely gets your mind right!

“Keep them going, Harper! All the way to the north side of the street!”

“Squad! Double time! Forward to the north side of the street! Stay in formation! Stay in formation!”

Now all we need to do is turn our formation westbound when we get to the north sidewalk. If we can do that, we’ll split their force and they’ll scatter. I’ll need to pull three officers back to deal with anyone who gets through our line. Shit! I don’t have three officers to spare! I don’t even have anyone to watch our backs! Where the hell is Nightwatch?

“Ruiz! Rosen! Drop back! Drop back! Anyone gets through our line, you subdue them! Don’t take any chances! Take them down and take them out fast!”

“You got it, Dani! Vic! With me!”

“The rest of you, plug that hole in our line!”

We’re spread pretty thin, but we have to work with what we’ve got. Shit! I’m going to kill some people when I find out why the hell they didn’t respond! I can hear the helicopter overhead! I know he’s telling everyone in the goddamned bureau what’s going on, blow by blow! I wish I could hear him, but there’s too much noise. I could use his eyes overhead to guide me. That’s why he’s there in the first place. If only we had more people! God damn it! Where the fuck is everyone?

“Harper! When you reach the north sidewalk, ninety degree turn left and force them down the street! Stay in formation! Repeat: do not break formation!”

“Roger that! Squad! On my order! Ninety degrees, left turn! Now! Turn!”

Nice turn, guys! We all stayed in formation! Shit, these Central officers are good!

“Harper! Double time! Forward! Double time!”

“Squad! Forward! Double time! Forward! Double time! Forward!”

Fantastic! They’re breaking and running! We’ve got this!

“Harper! Hold them here! Hold them here! Don’t chase them! Let them run!”

“Roger! Squad! Halt! Halt! Hold the line here! Stay in formation!”

I didn’t see anyone get through our line, but I need to make sure.

“Ruiz! Did anyone get through?”

“Negative! We’re good!”

“Get back in line! Both of you! Hold at the north end! Sixteen Central to air unit above 5th Street, are we clear?”

“Sixteen Central, this is Air Three. You’re looking good. Your six is clear, and the crowd’s running westbound. Great job, guys! Is anyone hurt?”

“Not as far as we know. We took some hits, but I don’t think they’re serious. We’ll let you know if we took any casualties. Can you stay up there and let us know if anyone tries to double back?”

“Roger, we’ll stay as long as you need us.”

“Air unit, do you know where everyone else is? Where the hell is the rest of the division?”

“Sixteen Central, it looks like there’s a command post one block south of your location. There’s a bunch of units just sitting in the parking lot. Don’t ask me what they’re doing.”

“Roger, air unit. Thanks for the assist.”

“First-rate job, guys! That was a textbook operation!”

“Thanks, air unit. We appreciate you looking out for us.”

“Any time, Sixteen. Have a better one.”

Yeah, it was textbook, all right. Except for the part where the rest of the division sat on its ass while we were out here taking on an unruly crowd with an under-strength force! Who the hell decided to set up a command post a fucking block away? Ten bucks says it was that same idiot sergeant who told everyone to stop running code three!

“Harper! Break up the squad and have four officers get back to the cars!”

“You got it! Kursteff, Vinell, Rosen, Ruiz! Back to the cars before these assholes double back and trash them!”

Well, this was certainly one for the books! Harper really came through on this one. I swear, if he doesn’t get a commendation for leading this thing, I’m going to kill someone with my bare hands!

“That was a major-league impressive performance, Harper. I’m proud of you. You really stepped up.”

“Bullshit. It was all you. You took command when nobody else knew what to do.”

“Yeah, but I just barked orders. You made it happen. I’m going to put you in for a commendation. You earned it.”

“Not unless you get one, too. You held us together, Dani. That’s what you call stepping up. That’s real leadership. Hey, speaking of leaders; where the fuck was everybody else? We didn’t have one sergeant here! Can you believe that?”

“No, I can’t. The air unit says there’s a command post with a shitload of units one block south of here.”

“Command post? Are they serious? I didn’t hear anything about a command post! Did you?”

“I couldn’t hear shit with all that screaming. But whoever set it up is going to be seriously pissed at us.”

“I’m seriously pissed at them! They left us wide open! We didn’t have enough officers for a proper skirmish line, let alone an arrest team!”

“Tell me about it. At least we had the right ones with us.”

“You can say that again. Did you notice all of Midwatch was here?”

“I wouldn’t expect any less. Come on, let’s go see what the hell started this shit storm.”

“Is anyone hurt?”

“Not as far as I know. Vinell and Kursteff put out the call. They looked all right to me. I saw a few guys get hit with shit, but it didn’t look serious.”

“I hope so. Well done, Dani. You’d make a great sergeant.”

“Yeah, that’ll be the day.”

Welcome to Central Division: land of insanity. Dear diary: today, I had my first riot on skid row. Something tells me it won’t be the last one.

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